What Counts as “Income” for Child Support Purposes?

Dec 8, 2022 | Child Support

Child support is used to ensure that children are taken care of and that both parents are financially supporting the children. Ideally, children should be able to maintain a certain living standard even after their parents are divorced and child support allows their basic needs to be met, no matter how much time they are spending with each particular parent. But how does the Court determine where this amount comes from?

Illinois courts consider the number of children and use a model called “percentage of obligor net income.” This method assumes that the costs to raise a child will be shared between the parents and assesses a percentage of income for each parent to go toward those costs. That percentage changes depending on the number of children the parties have. Ultimately though, the Courts are tasked with first determining how much income each parent brings to the calculations.

Sources of Income

When you ask someone what their ‘income’ is, they will often respond with their salary. That is, what they get on each of their paychecks – or what they make per year from their current job. But there are other sources that the Courts may look at, including:

What if One Parent is Unemployed?

There are also instances where a Court may even look at a parent’s assets if they do not have steady income or are permanently or temporarily unemployed (or underemployed). If a parent has chosen not to work or cannot work for some reason, the Court may make a determination of “potential” income that that parent probably could make based on factors such as:

  • The parent’s own work history
  • The parent’s educational history and level of degree
  • Occupational qualifications
  • Job opportunities
  • The local market for employment in the community

Absolutely no two cases are the same, which makes it extremely important to meet with legal counsel to gain guidance on what the Court may decide is your (or your child’s other parent’s) level of income. It is crucial to meet with an attorney to also look at potential deductions from your income that the law allows, or, to ensure that deductions the other parent is claiming are truly legitimate. Navigating the intricacies of child support income can be complicated. The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C., can help you sort through this and analyze your situation and that of the other party. Reach out today for assistance and for a thorough income review.