[UPDATE – The passage of the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act renders the legal analysis in this post inapplicable to cases pending after January 1, 2016. The revised 750 ILCS 5/505(h) explicitly authorizes the courts to deduct student loan payments in calculating a child support obligor’s net income.]
Many parents today face the financial reality of paying child support. Many of those same parents also face the reality of repaying their own, sizeable, student loan debt. In Illinois, child support is set according to statutory guidelines, which set support based upon a percentage of the supporting parent’s net income. By law, is a noncustodial parent allowed to deduct student loan payments in calculating his or her net income for child support purposes?
The answer is maybe, sometimes. For child support purposes, the term “net income” is defined by statute. It is calculated by taking all of the supporting parent’s income from all sources and subtracting particularly specified deductions, such as taxes, union dues, health insurance premiums, and the like. The statute also allows for the deduction of:
“Expenditures for repayment of debts that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income, medical expenditures necessary to preserve life or health, reasonable expenditures for the benefit of the child and the other parent, exclusive of gifts. The court shall reduce net income in determining the minimum amount of support to be ordered only for the period that such payments are due and shall enter an order containing provisions for its self-executing modification upon termination of such payment period.”
So, with the media declaring that America has a $1.2 trillion college debt “crisis,” will custodial parents soon face a corresponding reduction in child support crisis? Will a noncustodial parent who racked up massive student debt in obtaining a professional degree necessarily be able to deduct that student loan payment from his income when calculating his child support obligation? Not necessarily – but possibly some of it.