As always, my blogs do not constitute legal advice, just legal information. All cases vary, and your case is likely to differ. Please seek counsel before proceeding forward with any case for child support or child support modification. Thank You!
Since opening my practice, I am consistently asked the following question:
1) Why are my child support payments so high?
I will admit it's a tough and extreme complex, yet important question that I personally believe all dad's deserve answers to. It is frequent that I run across a parent who is struggling to eat, simply because they are paying child support for multiple children. I've had dad's ask me whether child support takes into account a basic standard of living for the father. I've also been bombarded with questions on how can a dad go about getting their child support modified.
Well in today's post, i hope to shed light on the child support & child support modification process, while also revealing some cold hard truth's about the process.
LET'S GET STARTED!!!!!
In Illinois there are usually 2 major tools that are used to help calculate a mother's or father's financial contribution towards their child, those include;
1) The Financial Affidavit
2) The child support estimator (which can be found here)
The financial affidavit is used to analyze the financial standing of each parent, and what their comparable contribution should be.
The child support estimator is what the court and attorneys use to figure out what the child would reasonably need in order to minimally sustain.
Mix these two tools together, and throw them into what I like to call "A what is best for the child" broth....and then you ultimately get what a judge is likely to order as your child support monthly payment!!!!!!
Ok, so now that this has been explained, i'd like to address another issue I often hear from dad's who have lost their jobs, and who are under the impression that they won't be able to make their child support payments.
I have some bad news: In illinois, a parent can be imputed to a minimum wage standard level of child support even if they have lost their job. Therefore, this means that even if your current wages equate to 0...you are likely to still have a minimum wage estimated amount of income that the court will determine you can pay. Additionally, you could also face additional orders by the court forcing you to find a job, and provide proof of your job search as well.
WHAT????? A lot of dad's upon being told the above information will then proceed to tell me that it isn't fair, that they are struggling to pay their bills, and that the system seems to be designed and set up for them to fail.
I understand all of these feelings, and as an attorney and father's right's advocate I do sympathize with my clients and prospective clients who are struggling in this area. However, I feel its my duty to be honest with my client in these circumstances, so I will often let them know upfront the court's ultimate stance which is:
"THE CHILD'S SURVIVAL AND SUPPORT OUTWEIGHS YOUR DESIRES, AND BEST INTEREST" .....Yes, in the eye's of the law, and in the eye's of the judge....kid's don't ask to be here, they require a certain level of financial support, and if that means you go without eating or having a place to sleep....you probably should have thought about that before you played a role in bringing your child into the world.
HARSH MUCH? Well i understand the sentiment. The idea a court can hand down a child support amount that appears to take a large chunk of your check is devastating, however, it isn't uncommon.
Well, in that case, what can I do? I'm barely making ends meet, I've been down on my luck...I am a good dad, but I have to find a way out of this situation right?
Well you are in luck...for dad's who were at one point given a child support amount, but have lost their jobs, there is the option to modify your child support obligation. For this option, you should seek out a licensed and well versed attorney who can assist you with these matters even if you cannot afford full representation in your child support modification matter. It can make all the difference.
Well a child support lawyer can assist you if you have been laid off from your job, or had your hours cut. However, it must be noted that time in of major importance when you have suffered a loss in income and change in status, as child support modifications are only active from the time the modification is put in, and now from the time you lost your job. YOU WILL STILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NORMAL AMOUNT ORDERED BY THE COURT UNTIL THE COURT PUTS IN AN ORDER ON YOUR MODIFICATION!!!!!!
So next time you are struggling with child support, please seek out an attorney as soon as possible...It could save you thousands in the long run depending on your circumstances.