On July 1, 2017, the State of Illinois will join a majority of states that calculate child support based on both parents’ income (among other factors), instead of just the noncustodial parent’s net income. However, the new statute explicitly states that the new law cannot be the sole basis for modifying a past child support order. In other words, if you have a current child support obligation, you cannot file a Motion to Modify or Reduce your child support obligation just because the law now requires the Court to also consider the custodial parent’s income.
Under the new statute, as well as the current statute, modifications to prior support orders can only be made upon showing that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the prior support order was issued. The intent of the legislature was clearly to prevent Illinois court rooms from being be flooded with motions to modify support orders after July 1, 2017.
The question remains as to what Courts will accept as a “substantial change in circumstances.” This is generally guided by prior case decisions, but creative lawyers will now try to expand those prior rulings to include broader definitions of the term “substantial change in circumstances,” in order to allow their clients to request the Court to apply the dictates of the new child support law. It is also possible that lawyers may try to appeal to a Court’s equitable powers to deviate from the current child support guidelines in the interests of fairness, even where the Court determines that a substantial change in circumstances has not occurred.
In any case, after July 1, 2017, Illinois court rooms are bound to hear an increased number of these cases. To increase your odds at successfully prosecuting such motion, or defending against it, it is wise to hire competent counsel now.
John Rossi is a partner with McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC. He has been practicing in the field of matrimonial and family law for almost two decades, and acts as an appointed mediator for Will County family mediations. He also acts as a court-appointed guardian ad litem, and is an experienced real estate and probate attorney. Contact John for a consultation regarding the impending changes to Illinois matrimonial law.