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Determining child support when a parent is unemployed in Illinois


Many parents in Illinois are no longer in a relationship with the other parent. In these situations, one parent is often required to pay child support to the other parent. The amount of the child support payment is determined using the child support guidelines. The main factor in determining a parent's income is the gross income of the parents.

However, not all parents have jobs. When a person is unemployed, they may not be receiving any income, which would mean that they would not owe child support. Some of the unemployed parents may have been laid off and are having trouble finding new employment, but others are not even trying to find a job or are receiving money from another source.

In certain situations, even though the parent's income is zero, the court can still impute income to that parent for child support purposes. If the parent is voluntarily unemployed, actively trying to avoid paying child support or turning down employment opportunities, the court can choose to impute income to that parent. The court can also review the financial resources of the parent, if basing the child support payment on a parent's income alone would be inappropriate.

These types of decisions are very fact specific, however, and the court would have to review the circumstances of each one individually prior to making a determination. Also, the amount the court imputes or how much the court ultimately orders would depend on specific circumstances such as previous employment or the type of employment a parent turned down.

Many parents are obligated to pay child support in Illinois. While child support is based on the parent's gross income, in circumstances where a parent is unemployed, the court can still impute income to that parent for child support purposes. Experienced attorneys understand the laws regarding child support and may be able to guide one through the process.

Source: Illinois State Bar Association, "The Supreme Court weighs in on a question of income," accessed on July 20, 2015

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