Child Support - The Law Office Of Robert B. Buchanan

Child Support

The idea of child support raises many questions and causes much frustration. The person paying child support is often bothered that they have no control over the money once it loses their hands. The person receiving child support often feels that it’s insufficient and that the other parent is not disclosing their full income. Learn more below.

What Can We Teach You About?

Child support is a topic that increases blood pressure. Usually, one parent wants it, and one parent is reluctant to pay it, or at least they are reluctant to pay the full amount the other spouse wants.

Under Illinois, the amount of child support that one parent pays can fluctuate substantially: depending on the financial circumstances, the custodial circumstances, the judge of the case, and the ability of the parties to effectively communicate.

Generally, the court will require the parent that doesn’t have custody (aka “non-custodial parent”) to pay the custodial parent a certain amount per month. However, the law says the court can require a support payment from either or both parents.

With that in mind, there are two general ways that the court will decide the child support obligation of either parent. The first, and most common, is by use of statutory guidelines. The Illinois child support guidelines require the supporting parent to pay a percentage of his or her net income to the other parent based on how many children are being supported. For example, if there is one child to support, the supporting parent would pay 20% of his or her net income to the other parent. The table below shows all of the guidelines:

Number of Children

Percent of Supporting Party’s Net Income

1

20%

2

28%

3

32%

4

40%

5

45%

6 or more

50%

If the court is going to deviate from the guidelines it must be convinced that it is in the best interest of the child (or children) to do so. The court may consider one or more of the following factors in determining whether it would be appropriate to make the non-custodial pay more or less than the statutory guidelines: the financial resources and needs of the child; the financial resources and needs of the custodial parent; the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved; the physical and emotional condition of the child, and his educational needs; and the financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.

As is apparent, the Illinois legislature has given the courts ample discretion in determining a proper amount for child support. There is nothing set in stone regarding child support. The lawmakers and judges are mothers, fathers, and caretakers, who all understand how unique each family situation is. Every family has a different story to tell. A good lawyer will spend the time to understand your unique story and convey it in the most persuasive way possible to the judge.

A sometimes tedious requirement in the divorce process and the child support process is the financial disclosure statement. This statement is essential to an equitable distribution of the assets, setting of child support, and determination of maintenance, as it outlines all of the income, expenses, and property held by each spouse.

Currently, the form can be found online at the Cook County Clerk of Court website: http://12.218.239.52/Forms/pdf_files/CCDR0604.pdf. If your case is outside of Cook County, check your court’s respective clerk of court website. For this blog post, we will refer to the Cook County Disclosure Statement, but as of January 1, 2016, all of Illinois will use the same standardized form.

The financial disclosure is made mandatory by Local Rule 13.3.1, which is why you may hear the form referred to as a 13.3. If you’d like to read the rule, it can be found at: http://www.cookcountycourt.org/Manage/RulesoftheCourt/ReadRule/tabid/73/ArticleId/40/13-3-1-M0andatory-Disclosure.aspx.

First and foremost, it is crucial for you to understand that this form is an affidavit. By signing the form, you are swearing that everything is accurate to the best of your knowledge. If the court finds that you have lied on the financial disclosure, you will severely damage your credibility with the judge and your attorney. Your attorney may even withdraw from the case.

The financial disclosure form will ask you to state all of your monthly expenses, these include but are not limited to things like your mortgage payment, water bill, grooming, car insurance, and health expenses. Additionally, it will ask about your expenses related to your child. This is where it gets a little confusing.

Regardless of whether you were the breadwinner or bill payer in your marriage, you had expenses and you should list them. It doesn’t matter that your spouse provided you with spending money, it matters that these were expenses directly related to you. You should not include your spouse’s expenses like how much he or she spends on grooming or clothing every month. Your spouse will include those on his or her own financial disclosure form.

If you have yearly expenses, you can divide them by 12 and list them as a monthly expense. The more detail and explanation, the better. Often times, you will run through several drafts of this disclosure with your attorney until he or she feels that it is accurate and complete. At Johnsen and Buchanan, we prefer to have our clients not only fill out the form, but also include notes and explanations on the first draft. This gives us a better idea of their financial situation and how to accurately include the information on the disclosure.

The financial disclosure statement will also ask you about any retirement plans, bank accounts, real estate, and other property valued at more than $500.00. It helps to have account statements, your income tax returns, insurance, and property information at hand when filing out this statement. As you will have to exchange your tax returns with the opposing party in the future, it is best to have them at hand from the very beginning.

The Local Rules state that the financial disclosure must be exchanged not later than 30 days after the initial pleading by the Petitioner (the person starting the action) and not later than 30 days after the Respondent has filed their appearance, OR not less than 7 days before a hearing, whichever is first. The Court may impose sanctions for failure to comply with these rules.

Unlike many other documents during the divorce process, the disclosure statement does not get filed. The certificate of service is filed with the court, and both the certificate of service and the financial disclosure are sent to the opposing party. Once the financial disclosure is sent to the opposing party, the discovery process may begin.