Navigating Illinois Child Support Modifications

During a divorce or parentage proceeding in Illinois, a child support order is often established to ensure the well-being of the child. As financial situations may evolve over the years, many individuals find themselves seeking modifications to Court Ordered child support  to ensure that the child's needs continue to be adequately met. Kogut & Wilson explores the various circumstances under which modifications may be considered.

Substantial Change in Circumstances                                 

In many proceedings, child support orders may be modified if a requesting parent can demonstrate a significant change in circumstances since the previous support order. The court will evaluate various factors to determine if a substantial change has occurred, considering both the parents’ and childrens’ circumstances since the last order was issued. Such substantial changes often include an increase or decrease in either parents’ income, or a change to the parenting time schedule.

A substantial change in circumstances may also warrant a change in other contributions to the minor child, including contribution to health insurance premiums, childcare expenses, educational costs or extracurricular activities.  A major increase, or decrease, in children’s expenses may be significant enough to warrant modification even without a corresponding change in either parent’s income.

Modification Without a Substantial Circumstance Change

Child support may be modified without proving a substantial change in circumstances if there is an inconsistency of at least 20%, but no less than $10 per month, between the existing order and the guideline amount specified in Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This exception:

  • Applies when child support enforcement services are provided by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and at least 36 months have passed since the order was entered or last modified
  • Will not apply if the inconsistency was created due to the existing order deviating from the guideline amount and if there has not been a change in the circumstances that created the deviation.

Terminating Child Support

A parent’s obligation to pay child support generally terminates upon the child’s emancipation, which occurs when the child turns 18, or if they are still in high school, on their date of high school graduation or the child’s 19th birthday, whichever is earlier. However, an order for child support does not automatically terminate upon a child’s emancipation. Instead, the child support order must be officially terminated by the Court, either by submission of an agreed order, or filing of a motion.

A parent's obligation to pay support or education expenses does not automatically terminate after the death of the parent. A Marital Settlement Agreement or other financial orders may contain provisions regarding life insurance to secure child support.  Additionally, a probate action may be commenced, and a court may award a sum of money out of the decedent’s estate to the other parent. The court can enforce the whole amount, modify or revoke support based on what the judge finds to be equitable.

Until a new support order or judgment is entered by a judge, the previous support order remains enforceable. Filing a Petition to Modify Child Support does not suspend the previous support order.

If you believe you require a modification to your existing support order, we encourage you to reach out to our dedicated Chicago divorce attorneys at Kogut & Wilson for guidance and support.


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