Child support is an important source of financial support for divorced and single parents. Unlike spousal maintenance or other divorce issues, divorcing parents cannot determine the terms of child support on their own. Because financial support from both parents is considered a child’s natural right, parents cannot generally choose to forgo child support.
Illinois now uses the Income Shares formula to calculate how much a parent pays in child support. Support obligations are based on both of the parents’ incomes so the payment amount is reasonable and affordable given the parents’ financial circumstances.
Some parents choose not to work or intentionally work at a lower-paying job to reduce their child support obligation. In situations like this, Illinois courts may use the parent’s “imputed income” to calculate child support.
Estimating a Parent’s Potential Income For Child Support
If the court has reason to believe that a parent is voluntarily unemployed, working minimal hours, or working at a low-paying job to evade child support, the court may use the parent’s imputed income instead of his or her actual income to determine child support. Imputed income is essentially the income the parent could be earning if he or she wanted to. The court only uses imputed income when a parent has chosen to be unemployed or underemployed.
Imputed income is not used if the parent is genuinely trying to find adequate employment or cannot work due to disability or another valid reason. For example, the court may use imputed income if someone quits a high-paying job to take a minimum wage job right before a divorce or child support case.
Imputed income is calculated by assessing the parent’s:
- Work history and the amount of money the parent has made in the past
- The job opportunities available to the parent
- The average income in the area
- The high-value assets the parent owns
If an unemployed parent does not have sufficient employment history for the court to determine the parent’s potential income, the court will just use the federal poverty guidelines to determine the parent’s imputed income. Illinois law states that the court may set the parent’s income at 75 percent of the poverty guidelines in situations like this.
Contact Our St. Charles Child Support Lawyers
If you have questions or concerns about child support, contact our Kane County child support attorneys for help. We have the experience and expertise you need to resolve your legal concerns. Call 630-665-7300 to set up your confidential consultation with MKFM Law today.