A cornerstone of divorce agreements involving children is the requirement for child support payments. Non-custodial parents in Illinois can expect to pay a percentage of their income at minimum. Family court judges and the parties to the divorce have options to modify beyond this minimum. The support amount set in the agreement is enforceable by law, but what happens when the non-custodial parent’s income changes after the agreement?

Either party to the divorce agreement may petition the court for changes to child support in the event of “a substantial change in circumstances.” This could mean a change in income after remarriage of either party, disability or new medical needs, cost of living changes or even a change in state law. An important point for payers of child support is the need to stay current on payments while petitioning the court for any reduction.

Just as courts must sign off on mediated divorce agreements for them to be enforceable, any agreed-upon changes in child support require a judge’s signature. Verbal statement of new terms by both parents is a great start, but this should never be acted upon until approved in court. Failure to pay child support may result in stiff penalties and a less sympathetic judge.

Non-custodial parents facing a loss of income may be able to get their payments reduced through the Illinois family courts. If the change is contested by the custodial parent, this will require evidence of income change and possibly an accounting of assets and reasons for the income reduction. Similar rules of evidence are placed on custodial parents seeking an increase in payments based on changed income, medical needs of the child or extracurricular expenses. Parents may have more success gathering the proper evidence and making their child support dispute with the assistance of an experienced attorney.