The end of your divorce is often a time of muted celebration. On the one hand, you've just ended a major relationship, which can be a source of sorrow. On the other, however, is the fact that you have a fresh start and a future that's now wide open. You may also simply be glad that the process is officially over. Now you know what assets you can keep, what the terms for custody will be and how much child support you have to pay.
Feeling relieved about the finalization of your divorce is completely normal. It's also common to believe that those terms are written in stone. As you move on with your life, you may soon find that your situation changes, leaving you in a position where child support as ordered is no longer reasonable or workable with your budget. At that point, you'll be glad to know that you may have the option of adjusting support levels.
Illinois allows for modifications to support
When the courts determine what amount of child support is fair and reasonable, they look at a number of factors. These include your income, the income of your spouse, the number of children and expenses related to medical needs and childcare, among others. All of this information helps the courts set the final amount of the child support order, which you must then pay in full each month.
Life tends to change when you least expect it. Perhaps you lost your job, or maybe your employer offered early retirement as part of a downsizing effort. Whatever your situation, if your income level or economic circumstances have changed substantially, you may have grounds to request a modification. The law in Illinois recognizes that child support should be fluid to remain feasible for the parents paying support.
When do you qualify for a child support modification?
In Illinois, the general practice is to review child support amounts every three years to ensure that they are still appropriate. If something substantially changes before the end of that three year period, however, parents can request a hearing for a modification. Any significant change in the income of the non-custodial parent could be grounds for a modification.
When one parent takes steps toward a modification, an investigation of the facts results. The courts will verify employment, look at any balance owed and determine what is reasonable now due to the changed circumstances. During that process, it is important to continue paying support as ordered in full. Only once the modification process is complete and the courts have adjusted your support amount can you start paying a new amount that better reflects your current income.