Under current Illinois Law, non-custodial parents pay a flat percentage based on his or her net income and the number of children who receive support. No special provisions exist based on custodial parents income, nor on the amount of time children spend with each parent. Some officials of the child support division of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services say this system is outdated and doesn't consider the circumstances of many modern families. Not only do criminal experts believe this current system incentivize for non-custodial parents to seek tax income loopholes, it is also unfair to the child who ends up receiving less financial support than if his/her parents had stayed together.
If passed into law, the changes will take into consideration the income of both parents involved, as well as how much time the child or children in question spend with each parent. The basic premise of the proposed system is that children will receive the same amount of financial support as they would have received had their parents not divorced or separated. Supporters of the overhaul claim these changes will be beneficial not only to the children, but to both custodial and non-custodial parents as well.
The proposed plan, which is already in place in 38 states, is based on an "income shares" system. The system will employ the use of an economic table which will outline the average cost of raising a child for nuclear families of various incomes. Unlike the current child support model, the income shares system will take into account both parents' incomes when calculating child support payments. Supports claim this will level the financial playing field for both parents, and can perhaps curtail child support disputes.
As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Margaret Stapleton, an attorney on the Illinois Child Support Advisory Committee, had this to say about the proposed child support model: "The biggest reason for moving to an income shares model is that it will be perceived by both mothers and fathers as fair to all." Stapleton, who backs the changes, went on to say, "People will see the baseline is what this child needs, what Parent A has and what Parent B has. I think people will see that as fairer".
Those not in favor of the overhaul cite cost as a major factor in their decision. Advisory committee member and family law attorney, Joan Colen, calls the change unwarranted, and says that the costs to implement them would be far too drastic for such little change to the current system. Economic experts hired by the committee agree, saying child support payments wouldn't be altered enough to warrant a complete overhaul, the estimated costs of which are between two and three million dollars.
The advisory committee hopes to approach the General Assembly with its proposal by this spring. If the new system passes legislation, it will take at least two or three years for it to go into full effect.