Collaborative Process is getting more play in Illinois with the passage of the Uniform Collaborative Process Act and the timing couldn’t be better: New child support guidelines went into effect July 1st and the potential fallout is evident in conversations with my clients and colleagues and in those I overhear at the courthouse.
Illinois has now joined the majority of other states in that the way child support is calculated will take into account the amount of time a child spends with each parent (using overnights as a proxy for parenting time) and will factor in the come of each parent. (The old guidelines were simply a percentage of the payor’s net income.) In concept, this could be better overall in some situations. In others, though, the result is just plain wrong. ONe of the faulty premises of the new guideline is that the state has created a table that purports to quantify a “basic child support obligation” that is standardized throughout the state.
Reasonable people can disagree about what this “basic” obligation covers. The understanding has been that child support covers food, shelter, and clothing but what about cell phones? Daycare? Car insurance for a teenager? Anyone who lives in Illinois knows there is nothing standard about incomes and lifestyles: The median household income in DuPage County is $81,599* and median property value is $293,500*. Compare that to the median household income in St. Clair County of $50,347 and median property value of $115,000*. How will a judge address the concept of “average” in his/ her county?
Like all new laws, it’s hard to predict how a judge will interpret these new guidelines, which brings us back to why Collaborative Process is more important than ever. For couples who prefer to keep the decision-making process in their own hands, it makes sense. Our firm helps couple look at their own family – not the “average” Illinois family – so they can reach agreements that make sense for them based on their goals, income levels, and expenses. (If your situation warrants an outside decision-maker because of high degrees of conflict, we can refer you to a respectful law firm that takes a more traditional approach.)
There is nothing average about your family. If you are interested in learning about the different ways to divorce and if Collaborative Process is right for your own situation, please contact us to schedule a one-hour educational presentation.
*Based on 2015 Census Bureau data.