How Parenting Time Impacts Child Support


If you are preparing for a divorce and have a child, you may be wondering how child support is determined. In Illinois, child support orders are based on two major factors:

  1. A parenting schedule
  2. A state-mandated formula that takes into account each parent’s net income to calculate the appropriate child support amount for each family

Creating a parenting schedule is the first step in this two-part process—but it looks different for every family. In this blog, I’ll explore how parenting schedules and child support are connected.

How do I develop a parenting schedule?

You and your spouse can work with your attorneys to determine how you want to divide your parenting responsibilities. You may try to achieve a 50/50 split—or, if one parent travels a lot, you may agree that the parent who doesn’t travel should have a majority of parenting time.

In 2016, the Illinois Parentage Act was modified from being custody-based to focusing on decision-making. These changes are intended to improve equity and prevent “all or nothing” situations for parents. When planning your parenting responsibilities under this act, you and your spouse must consider four major categories:

  1. Education
  2. Health
  3. Religion
  4. Extracurriculars

The number of overnights a parent has with a child is also important. In Illinois, 146 nights is the benchmark. If the parent who has a child support obligation exercises at least 146 overnights (40% of a year) with a child, they will pay less in child support.

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement as to the allocation of parenting time or the allocation of parental responsibilities, then Courts will routinely refer parties to mediation early in a divorce proceeding or parentage proceeding, in attempts to facilitate an amicable resolution to any parenting disagreements. If an agreement still cannot be reached with the mediator, a child representative or a guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed by the Court to represent your child’s best interests.

While your child’s health and happiness are the priority, there are also financial consequences that may arise depending on the type of parenting schedule that is ultimately implemented. Your attorney can help you understand the costs associated with different scenarios of child-related expenses.

Does the court have a say in my parenting schedule?

Yes, the court has the final say in your parenting schedule if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement.

A judge will seek to order a plan that he or she believes serves the best interests of the child—both physically and emotionally—by looking at historical context and evidence produced at trial or a hearing on the issue of parenting time. This includes:

  1. The status quo throughout the marriage and whether or not one parent was often absent
  2. What the parenting schedule means for the child’s current education, where they attend school, and the activities they are involved in
  3. The stability of each parent’s work schedule and living arrangements
  4. Whether a party’s parenting time should be restricted due to a party’s conduct which seriously endangers the child’s mental, moral, or physical health, or that significantly impairs the child’s emotional development.

What happens once the parenting schedule is approved?

Once a parenting schedule is set, the amount of overnights that a parent exercises with the child, along with each parent’s net income will be considered in setting a child support amount. a The court also has the authority to deviate from the formula in certain circumstances..

Are parenting schedules modifiable at a later time?

Yes, allocation judgments and parenting time are always modifiable if there’s been a substantial change in the child’s or a parent’s life or if the requested change is in the child’s best interest. The court has the authority to modify these orders until the child is emancipated (which occurs by law at age 18).

Let us help you reach your family goals: Contact Stern Perkoski Mendez

Determining a parenting schedule and child support can be complex, and it depends on your unique situation. At Stern Perkoski Mendez, we are committed to prioritizing your child and ensuring their needs are met while helping you understand how a parenting schedule will impact you and your finances.

I welcome the chance to discuss this with you at our offices in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest, Oak Brook or a location that’s convenient for you. Please reach out today by requesting a free consultation or calling us at (847)-868-9584.

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For a free consultation, call Stern Perkoski Mendez at (847) 868-9584 or contact us.