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What happens if child/spousal support together are unaffordable?

In many divorce situations, the court will award both spousal and child support to one person. If this happens in your case and you are the one paying, you may wonder what will happen if the amount the court awards is too high and leaves you barely any money to live on. 

According to the Illinois General Assembly, the law has specific guidelines for the amount a court can make you pay for combined child and spousal support. The basic guideline is that the amount of combined child support and spousal support cannot be more than 50% of your annual net income. 

Alternative guidelines

An alternative way of figuring support amounts involves calculations with your net annual income and your former spouse’s net annual income. These calculations apply when the basic guideline is not met. 

The law requires the court to figure 33 1/3% of your net income. It must then subtract 25% of your former spouse’s income. It must then take the amount of support paid in total and add that to your former spouse’s net income. The total cannot be more than 40% of the total when adding your net income and the net income of your former spouse. 

Modification option

If you have a change in your income or your former spouse has a change in his or her income after you finalize your divorce, then you may have the option to modify the support orders. For spousal support, modification may be easier than for child support. You may have grounds to request a change if either of you has a significant and permanent change in income.