Can Child Support Be Modified?

Kids need to be supported, and it is their parents’ responsibility to support them. Not only is it right, it is the law. However, there is often a great difference in opinion regarding what a parent wants in child support, what the other person wants to pay in child support, and what the court orders in child support. Thus child support proceedings can sometimes become hotly contested matters.

Even after child support orders are in place, there may come a time when it is appropriate to revisit and modify this order. However, a party’s unhappiness in itself is not enough to warrant a modification. The law in Illinois requires that the party requesting a modification of child support demonstrate a “substantial change in circumstances”.

A Substantial Change in Circumstances

What constitutes a “substantial change” is undefined and gives courts tremendous discretion to modify or deny a request to modify child support. In addition, case law has established scenarios that qualify and do not qualify as substantial.

The legislature also created two exceptions in which a substantial change is not necessary. These include:

  1. When the current support obligation deviates from the child support guidelines by at least 20%, and the order did not result from an intentional deviation laid out by the court. Significantly, this only applies in child support cases involving Illinois’ Health and Human Services as the enforcement agency.
  2. When the child has health care needs that have to be provided for via insurance or other means.

Changing Child Support Obligation

In addition, it is important to understand regarding child support obligations, that:

  • Only a court with jurisdiction can modify a child support obligation. Even if parents reach an agreement to modify child support, it must be approved and ordered by the court. Further, a court will not approve an agreed child support modification that it finds in conflict with the child’s best interest.
  • A court cannot modify prior obligations. Vested child support obligations are ones that have already become due and cannot be retroactively changed.
  • Although Illinois implemented the income shares calculation of child support, this does not change child support obligations ordered before July 1, 2017. In fact, you still need to demonstrate a substantial change of circumstances to modify your support.

Terminating Child Support

A child support order may be terminated upon the subject child’s eighteenth birthday or graduation from high school, whichever occurs later.

An Attorney Can Help You

The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas is a family law firm that handles divorces, property division, child custody, and child support disputes. If you need legal guidance regarding a family law matter, such as a child support order, contact us today. I have over twenty years of legal experience in family law and can provide intelligent, no-nonsense legal representation. Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 for a consultation or visit our website today.

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