The new year is an opportunity for a fresh start.  This is your chance to reflect on the year that has gone by, plan for the future and renew hope for happiness and success.  Those who divorced in the prior year are especially excited about the transition to 2019. If you are divorced and paying child support to your former spouse, you should be mindful of the nuances of Illinois law.  A single misstep has the potential to ruin your finances, violate the terms of your matrimonial settlement agreement and get the new year off to a rocky start.

 

Divorced?  Here is What Should be on Your Mind to Start the New Year

The state of Illinois typically requires certain provisions be included in matrimonial settlement agreements or the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.  One common provision states you and your former spouse are legally required to provide one another with your tax returns every single year. The logic in this provision is that it provides both parties with knowledge of the other’s earnings in case it is necessary to return to court for a hike (or a reduction) in child support payments or other support payments.  The state of Illinois calculates child support with an income shares model so any alteration in income must be noted and financial support plan amended as necessary.

 

Illinois Child Support Payments According to the Income Shares Model

Our state’s income shares model is a fancy way of stating the court considers both ex-spouses’ incomes when determining child support payments. If your income stagnates and your former spouse’s income increases, you might not have to pay as much child support through the new year and possibly beyond.  Also, if your income slightly increased in 2018 and your spouse’s income significantly increased, you might not have to pay as much child support in 2019.

 

Illinois Child Support Payments are not set in Stone

As detailed above, it is clear child support payments in the state of Illinois are dynamic instead of static.  This legal arrangement has the potential to change as time progresses. Child support is always modifiable. Even if you are on the hook for egregiously large child support payments, there is a chance these payments will increase with each passing year based on your earnings as well as your ex-wife’s earnings.

Though it might be tempting to ignore sharing your tax returns, doing so is a major mistake.  Like any provision in your divorce decree, if you refuse to follow it, your ex-spouse could take you back to court and ask that you be held in contempt. It’s therefore best not to blow this obligation off.  Once you eventually return to court, everyone’s financial documents will be analyzed in-depth by a family court judge to determine if either parent has made more or less money than anticipated. Once the court crunches the numbers, both parties will be assigned their support obligation in accordance with a ratio of both spouses’ incomes.  

 

The Gift You did not Expect

Provide your former spouse with your tax return and ask to see his or her tax returns on a yearly basis and you just might end up paying less in child support throughout 2019 and beyond.  You can use the proceeds to get your son or daughter with gifts, sock the money away for his or her college education or simply use it to increase your quality of life.

The best part of reduced child support payments is the gift that keeps on giving.  If you made less than expected this past year or if your ex-wife or ex-husband made more than anticipated, there is a good chance this trend will continue in the years ahead.  It is possible income alterations will continue to reduce your monthly child support payments across posterity.