As this blog has mentioned before, child support orders in Illinois are largely determined by how much income each parent makes.
In fact, based on this state's income shares model, the very idea of child support is that each parent contributes a proportionate share of his or her income to the support of the children.
A parent in Peoria may wonder, however, what should happen if her child's other parent could earn more income and in fact historically did earn more income but is currently choosing either not to work or work in a lower-paying job. It may seem at first glance that there is little one can do about it since the other parent is on paper not earning as much and thus should legally not pay as much in child support.
Fortunately, judges in Illinois have some discretion to deal with these sorts of situations. Specifically, if a parent can convince a judge that the other parent either is voluntarily not working or is choosing to be underemployed, then the judge can base child support on that parent's potential income.
To determine her potential income, the judge can look at the parent's work history, as well as the parent's education and qualifications. The judge can also examine the prevailing job market in the local area.
While parents can do something when another parent is not doing his part to make income and thus support his children, actually making one's case can be difficult since it involves persuading the judge that an ordinary application of the state's child support guidelines is not adequate in the given case. This is one reason why it might be a good idea for a parent to seek professional legal counsel.