Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Can a child support amount be agreed to outside of court or does it have to go through the system?

Question: If parents share joint physical custody of a child in Illinois, does one parent still have to pay child support and what would that be

Can a child support amount be agreed to outside of court or is it mandated by the court system?



Though I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, Cordell & Cordell has attorneys located in Illinois, and I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state because I can only give you general information. You should not rely upon this information as creating an attorney-client relationship, and you should seek counsel in your area for further instructions and suggestions within the parameters of the laws of your state. 

That being said, there are common themes in child custody and support among states, one of which is that the amount of each parent’s child support is usually a proportionate share of that parent’s income in relation to both parents’ income for each overnight. Most states have mandatory or recommended child support formulas to calculate this amount. 

Strange as it may seem, a parent with a higher income may end up paying child support even though he has his child (and supports his child on his time) as often as the other parent. However, most states will allow parents to motion for or consensually opt-out of the statutory amount under certain conditions. 

The conditions vary by state, and the likely success varies by the temperament of the judge or family court referee deciding your motion. In Michigan, for example, the parent must prove that the statutory amount is “unjust or inappropriate.” Most states will also allow a parent relief from a child support obligation if the parent is unable to pay it, but, again, the conditions and likely success depend on the particular state. 

You should consult with an attorney in your area to discuss what options, if any, you have based on the particular orders and facts in your case.   


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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