Illinois Family Law: Have Things Changed Since Your Last Child Support Order?

Cari Rincker Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

Illinois courts can reconsider a child support calculation once there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”

What’s new?

As any parent would know, the cost of caring for your children can change throughout the years. The expenses of a toddler will surely differ from those of a teenager. At the same time, the income of one or both parents might also rise or fall with time. This post will help you understand when it might be appropriate for the Court to modify your family’s child support payments.

My ex is earning more now – can my child support go up?

It depends. If the increase in your ex’s earnings is ‘substantial’ then a court may modify a child support award. This is particularly true if there are other substantial changes, either to your own income or to your documented child care costs.


Past cases in Illinois have found that changes in income of 10% were not ‘substantial’. However, this is not a clear-cut rule and the Courts can consider each unique set of circumstances. The court may consider:

  • The amount of the increase (or decrease in earnings)
  • Whether the change was foreseen when the original child support was calculated
  • The specific and documented expenses of child care, if those have changed significantly
  • Changes to the income of the second parent.


Courts often award expenses divided evenly between each parent and the student, but that is not required. Courts can place a higher share of expenses on one parent, particularly when there is a large difference between the financial position of each parent.

I pay child support, but I can’t afford my payments. Can they be recalculated?

Whether or not payments can be recalculated downward depends on the reason you are having difficulty making payments. If your income has decreased by a substantial amount, a Court may consider decreasing your support obligation. However, a reduction in support is not guaranteed.


The Court may consider additional factors, including:

  • Whether your decrease in income was voluntary (e.g. Did you quit your job?)
  • Whether you have any additional resources that could be used to pay support (e.g. Did you retire, but start taking contributions from your retirement account?)
  • The income and resources of the support recipient, weighing how much they need the support vs your ability to pay.


If you are simply having trouble making payments, but there has not been any significant change in your circumstances since the Court last calculated your child support award, it is unlikely that the Court would revisit the calculation.

What are the next steps?

If you think you may need modification of child support, contact Rincker Law today! We can help determine if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that would allow a court to redetermine the correct amount for your family.

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