Remarriage and Child Support in Illinois
Remarriage can change almost everything about your life – except your Illinois child support payments.
A parent’s legal obligation to support their children doesn’t end when they find someone new. It’s rare for courts to change child support payments because the supporting noncustodial partner gets remarried.
Illinois child support basics
Over 357,000 families have Illinois child support arrangements. Typically, payments are deducted (garnished) from the payor’s wages. In fiscal year 2022, those payments totaled $1.18 billion. So, if you pay child support, you’re certainly not alone.
As part of the divorce process, the court determines child support payments. An online estimator (like this one) can give parents a good understanding of how much their family merits in costs per month.
Factors like the following determine how large the payment will be:
- Number: The more children the partners share, the higher the payment.
- Overnights: Illinois counts how many nights a child spends with each parent to determine who is the custodial parent and who is the paying party.
- Income: The amount parents earn in salary, tips, and overtime work is included here.
- Spousal support payments: If one party is responsible for spousal support or alimony, those fees are deducted from that person’s income.
- Health insurance: A noncustodial parent who provides health insurance to the child may have a smaller child support payment as a result.
- Childcare: A noncustodial parent paying for babysitters or daycare could have child support responsibilities limited accordingly.
Judges have leeway when determining child support payments. They might decide that one party should pay more (or less) depending on special circumstances. For example, if the shared child has an expensive medical condition, the judge might order higher payments to cover those costs.
Does remarriage impact Illinois child support?
A wedding rarely changes child support arrangements. Your genetic or adopted children are your legal obligation to support. That connection doesn’t break when you start a new family.
If a custodial parent remarries, however, the situation may change. For example, the noncustodial parent could get more time with the child, changing the support ratio significantly. What’s more, a remarriage could mean halting spousal maintenance payments, which would alter your income too.
If either party remarries, don’t expect your child support payments to change automatically. But use the online calculator to see if it’s worthwhile to reopen your case and ask for an adjustment.
Can the courts consider a new spouse’s income?
Illinois looks at personal income, not family income, when determining child support. Every line within the payment estimators should include your numbers, not those of your spouse. A new marriage shouldn’t change the figures.
Exceptions exist. A new marriage could be so life-changing that one party could stop working, reducing their income to zero. In a case like this, the courts may need to determine how much that person would make if they were employed. That figure would become part of the family’s official record.
Similarly, a new marriage could alter arrangements if the original partnership didn’t provide enough money to meet a child’s basic needs. In a situation like this, the court might use a new party’s income to reduce the child’s reliance on state programs like Medicaid.
Noncustodial parents and child support
Illinois child support payments are typically paid by the noncustodial parent. This person doesn’t create and maintain a household for the children. Instead, they make payments that allow the other parent to keep a home suitable for children.
Illinois laws state that caring for multiple children in different households will affect the amount of child support paid by the noncustodial parent. In other words, if you get married and have significant financial burdens caused by new children, you could petition to reduce your child support payments.
This multi-family adjustment can come through a court order, or it could be an independent arrangement made between two parties and filed with the courts. No agreements you make can cause your original family financial hardship. But in general, starting a new family could reduce the amount you pay to your original one.
How can you modify child support agreements?
Just as your children’s expenses change with time, so can your child support arrangements. Illinois laws are designed to allow for shifts in payments.
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services/Division of Child Support Services reviews child support orders every 36 months. In those reviews, the agency can change the payments.
The agency might look at factors such as these:
- Age: If the child is old enough to move out of a daycare and into a public school, payments could go down accordingly.
- Health insurance: If one party gets remarried and accepts health insurance responsibilities, payments may change.
- Spousal support: If one party gets remarried and spousal support payments are halted, the payments might be adjusted accordingly.
You’re not required to wait for 36 months for a payment review. You can start the process at any point.
Illinois requires motion forms that are filled out and filed with the courts. They trigger a review of financial documents to determine if something new must happen.
How hard is it to change arrangements?
You can’t just walk into a courtroom and claim that the payments are punishing after your new marriage. You must provide significant proof that your fees should be different.
You need to provide proof of a change in finances. That means you’ll need documents like the following:
- Pay stubs
- Your partner’s pay stubs
- Daycare bills (or lack thereof)
- Health insurance payments (or lack thereof)
- Current parent visitation plans
- Number of children added due to the new family
The more evidence you have, the better. You must persuade the courts that your financial situation has changed or that your partner has a new financial future. Your opinion is simply not enough to prompt a change. You need proof.
You could also negotiate directly with your partner. Schedule a meeting in a quiet place, away from your children. Bring your proof to this meeting, and explain how you’d like to adjust your future payments.
If you think this conversation will be complicated, use a mediator. This impartial third party will help you to negotiate with your partner. This professional will be familiar with Illinois laws and ensure that the agreements you craft will be approved by the courts.
When you come to a fair and equitable agreement, you can file paperwork together, significantly shortening your court time frames and reducing the hassle involved.
This agreement can also help you to preserve your partnership. That’s critical, as you’ll continue to raise children together. It’s worth the effort to set aside strong emotions and work together to reach a mutually beneficial solution.
ReferencesEnforcing Child Support Orders. Illinois Attorney General.
Illinois Child Support Estimator. Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
Calculating Child Support. Illinois Legal Aid Online.
Child Support in Illinois. Illinois Attorney General.
Section 505: Child Support, Contempt, Penalties. Illinois General Assembly.
Approved Statewide Forms: Divorce, Child Support, and Maintenance. Illinois Courts.