How Does Child Support Work in Chicago Illinois?

Whether you are in the midst of divorce or were never married, Illinois state law controls how child support works in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois Statute Section 61.13(1) allows the court to enter child support orders and provides some guidelines of what child support orders must include.

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Child Support

Effective July 1, 2017, courts in the State of Illinois implemented changes to how child support is to be calculated. Going forward, child support obligations will be calculated using something called the “Income Shares Method”. The formula no longer uses a straight percentage to calculate income. Instead, it calculates child support incorporating both the non-custodial and the custodial parent’s income.

Standardized Net Income

To calculate child support under the new law, the courts now ask that both parents disclose their gross monthly incomes by completing a Financial Affidavit and supplying copies of recent paystubs. After these initial disclosures are made, the gross income amounts are converted into “Standardized Net Income” amounts, determined by a standardized chart published by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services. You can view a copy of this chart online here or by performing an internet search for “Standardized Net Income Chart Illinois”.

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Combined Net Income

These standardized net amounts for both parents are added together to calculate what the courts refer to as the parents’ “Combined Net Income”. This figure represents both parents’ total combined income.

Income Shares Table

The next step is to refer to another document published by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services titled “Income Shares Schedule”. We take the Combined Net Income calculated in step two above, and correspond it accordingly with the appropriate figure on the chart. This will later be used to determine the final amount the payor will owe. This dollar figure reflects the total child support amount that the parties will need to contribute together for the minor child. You can view this chart here or by performing an internet search for “Combined Net Income Chart Illinois”.


Calculate the percentage of the total Combined Net Income each party earns. So, for example, if the Petitioner earns $75,000.00 a year and the Respondent earns $25,000.00 a year, then the Petitioner would earn 75% of the Combined Net Income, and the Respondent would earn 25% of the Combined Net Income.

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Calculating the Final Amount of Child Support Owed and Payable

The final step is to take the amount determined from the Income Shares Table in step three, and the Payor’s percentage of the Combined Net Income calculated in step four. The obligor shall pay the percentage of the total income from the Income Shares Table equal to his percentage contribution to the parties’ Combined Net Income. So, for example, the Petitioner from step four who earns 75% of the Combined Net would be expected to pay 75% of the total from the Income Shares Table. This would be his child support amount. The Obligee shall not pay herself any child support (obviously).

CAVEAT: Please note this is a general calculation for cases where there is no shared parenting time and both parties are simply W-2 wage earners. For other fact scenarios, please call us now to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Illinois divorce and parentage attorney about your specific child support calculation. Your specific situation may require additional calculations or different considerations. While this is a general calculation, your specific case can be different, so please do not construe this as legal advice or creation of an attorney-client relationship between you and us. We are happy to discuss your Cook County divorce or parentage case with you.

Most lawyers just use the online calculator to estimate the child support but your attorney should always take the formal steps to calculate child support as listed above.

The child support calculation is not the last step. The child’s expenses and any possible child support arrearages must also be calculated but those are done in a less mathematical manner.

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