In an Illinois family law case, child support is one of the most important issues that must be addressed. When the support amount is determined, it is meant to provide for the child’s best interests. That includes medical care, a safe place to live, clothing, food and other necessities. The noncustodial parent is expected to make the payments in full. Often, the amount is based on various factors including the income and means of both parents. The order is not set in stone and can be modified as needed. As the past several years have shown, challenges can arise without warning and people might suddenly find themselves with diminished income. It is important to understand how to modify a child support order if a supporting parent has lost his or her job.
The basics of a child support modification
Child support is overseen by the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). It is responsible for deciding when modifications should be made. Every three years, the DCSS will inform the parents that they can ask for the child support order to be reviewed. The review can be done even before three years have elapsed if a noncustodial parent has suffered a significant change in income; if the order does not provide healthcare for the children; or if there was a written request for a review. The order can stay the same as it was; it can be increased; or it can be reduced.
Regarding job loss or income reduction, the noncustodial parent might be facing a professional and personal challenge that causes them to struggle in making the payments. Even if it is temporary, it could be sufficient to warrant a reduction of the child support order. The situation will be scrutinized. If, for example, the supporting parent lost the job due to absenteeism or theft, then it is unlikely that the DCSS will be sympathetic. If it happened because the business closed, then the case will be analyzed in a different light. The parent’s history of making the child support payments can also factor in with a temporary or permanent modification.
Both parents should be protected when a modification is requested
The child’s needs are paramount in any family law case in which child support is in dispute. Still, there are options to change the order if the circumstances are sufficient to do so and the child’s needs will be met. For both parents, it is imperative to be aware of their rights. Having experienced guidance with these types of cases is key and can help with reaching an acceptable result.