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Child Support FAQs
How much should be paid in child support?

The law provides guidelines regarding the minimum amount of child support:


Number of Children Percent of Supporting Party's Net Income
one 20%
two 28%
three 32%
four 40%
five 45%
six or more 50%

Both parents may be required to pay child support.

From what income is child support paid?

Child support is calculated by adding up all sources of income and making the following deductions:

  • Subtract actual federal and state income taxes, not merely withholding.
  • Subtract mandatory retirement contributions and union dues.
  • Subtract Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Subtract health insurance premiums.
  • Subtract previously ordered child support and spousal maintenance.
  • Subtract expenses reasonably necessary for the production of income.
  • Subtract expenses (exclusive of gifts) paid for the benefit of the other parent or children; this includes health insurance premiums and medical expenditures.

Marital misconduct is irrelevant in determining the amount of child support. The nature and extent of visitation is irrelevant in determining the amount of child support.

When may child support vary from the guidelines?

The duty is to pay child support in an amount sufficient to provide for the reasonable and necessary physical, mental, and emotional health needs of children. The best interest of the child is the governing principle.

  • The financial resources and needs of the child.
  • The financial resources and needs of the custodial parent.
  • The standard of living of the child but for the divorce.
  • The physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child.
  • The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.

Child support may be less than the guidelines if the child resides with the parents on a substantially equal basis, if the non-custodial parent is paying significant expenses for the custodial parent, or if the parents split custody of several children.

How long must child support be paid?

Generally, child support must be paid until a child reaches majority.

  • A child reaches majority on the 18th birthday, or the 19th birthday if still attending high school.
  • A court may order support after a child reaches majority if the child is disabled.
  • A court may order payment of educational expenses until a child has earned a baccalaureate degree.

To determine whether and the amount to award disabled child support or college educational expenses, a court will consider the financial resources of the parents, the standard of living the child enjoyed before the divorce, the financial resources of the child, and the child's academic performance.


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Either or both parents may be ordered to pay reasonable and necessary child support, without regard to marital fault or misconduct. If the official Illinois guidelines are not appropriate, the court considers the financial resources and needs of the child, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had endured, the physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child, and the financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the non-custodial and the custodial parent. Support payments may be ordered paid directly to the court.
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