Margaret Bennett Receives the Richard H. Teas Legislative Support Award

Bennett Law Firm is proud to announce that the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) has presented Margaret Bennett with the prestigious Richard H. Teas Legislative Support Award at their 141st annual meeting in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Ms. Bennett has been acknowledged by the ISBA for her service in support of family law legislation in the Illinois General Assembly. She was instrumental in drafting the Parentage Act of 2015, and the newly enacted income shares child support legislation. She was a vital member of a team of attorneys drafting the child support legislation that becomes effective on July 1, 2017. Illinois now joins 39 other states that use this model to calculate child support. To learn more about the new method of calculating child support please see Ms. Bennett’s article in the Illinois State Bar Journal.

Margaret Bennett receives the Richard H. Teas award from Jim Covington

Computation of Basic Child Support Obligations by Margaret Bennett

With the new Illinois Child Support Guidelines coming into effect July 1, 2017, Margaret Bennett has been traveling the state educating family law attorneys about the new income shares method. In her latest article titled: Computation of Basic Child Support Obligations, Ms. Bennett breaks down the method used for calculating net income and each parent’s obligation to child support. 

Ms. Bennett will be continuing her speaking engagements with Illinois family law attorneys at the following upcoming events:

-June 9, 2017: Institute for Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Bloomington
-June 14, 2017: Lake County Bar Association Seminar

New Method for Calculating Child Support Beginning July 1, 2017

A major change in Illinois law on the methods to calculate child support will become effective July 1, 2017. One of the lead drafter’s of this new child support legislation, Margaret Bennett, shared her thoughts on the new income shares method in her Article in the December 2016, ISBA Bar Journal. The new child support statute considers the income of both parents and the cost/expenditures of the child(ren).

Ms. Bennett currently serves as the Chair of the Child Support Advisory Committee for the State of Illinois and is the Co-Chair of the Child Support Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law Section Council. She will be speaking at the following engagements to educate Illinois attorneys on this new income shares method:

-May 11, 2017: Kane County Bar Association’s 2017 Family Law Seminar

-May 12, 2017: Winnebago County Bar Association Seminar

-May 16, 2017: Will County Bar Association Seminar

-May 18, 2017: Institute for Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Chicago

-June 9, 2017: Institute for Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Bloomington

-June 14, 2017: Lake County Bar Association Seminar

If you would like to know more about this new child support statue, please contact Margaret Bennett at (630) 573-8800 or to schedule an appointment.


Reprinted with permission of the Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 103 #12, December 2016. Copyright by the Illinois State Bar Association.


Margaret Bennett Named to 2017 Super Lawyers List!

Congratulations to Margaret Bennett on being named to the Top 100: 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers List and the Top 50: 2017 Women Illinois Super Lawyers List!

This is Ms. Bennett’s the fifth year in a row she has been recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyer. Only 5% of attorneys in the State of Illinois are selected to the Super Lawyers list. Congratulations to Ms. Bennett on her outstanding dedication and excellent work in the area of Family Law and Divorce!

Happy Holidays from Bennett Law Firm!


Happy holidays from Bennett Law Firm! Once again, Bennett Law Firm donated holiday gifts to disabled adults living in group homes in the Chicago area. Each recipient received a bag containing a personalized gift, gift cards and essential daily use items. Santa arrived to delivered the gifts to the delight of everyone at the holiday party held on December 12th in the Chicago western suburbs. The firm began purchasing gifts back in July and worked throughout the fall to find the perfect combination of gifts for these wonderful and deserving individuals.

We wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! awesome-happy-holidays-gif-picture  

Illinois Income Shares Child Support Guidelines

Bennett Law Firm is proud to share with you the latest article from Ms. Bennett regarding the new Illinois Income Shares Child Support Guidelines published by the Illinois Bar Journal. Ms. Bennett is one of the drafter’s of the new child support legislation which will become effective July 1, 2017.

Ms. Bennett serves as the chair of the Child Support Advisory Committee of the State of Illinois and is co-chair of the Child Support Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law Section Council.   December 2016, ISBA Bar Journal  

Reprinted with permission of the Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 103 #12, December 2015. Copyright by the Illinois State Bar Association.


An Overview of the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015

Margaret Bennett, now the Chair of the Illinois Child Support Advisory Committee, was a major contributor of change in the Illinois Parentage Act in 2015, the first amendment to the Illinois parentage laws in over 30 years. The new act which went into effect January 1, 2016, was a complete rewrite of the Illinois parentage laws that reflect changes in cultural norms and reproductive technology.  Below is her article in the Illinois Bar Journal stating the much needed changes for Illinois residents.   illinois-bar-journal-ipa-2015  

Reprinted with permission of the Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 103 #12, December 2015. Copyright by the Illinois State Bar Association.

Presenting the Parentage Act of 2015 Effective January 1, 2016

On October 1, 2015, Margaret A. Bennett was a speaker at the James R. Thompson Center Auditorium in Chicago, Illinois, regarding the new Parentage Act of 2015 which will be in effect beginning January 1, 2016.

You can see the video of Ms. Bennett’s presentation and read the summary or the full Parentage Act here: Navigating the New IMDMA & Parentage Act

Attorney Margaret A. Bennett Co-Author’s Article with Honorable Pamela E. Loza for Illinois State Bar Association January 2015 Newsletter

We are proud to announce Attorney Margaret A. Bennett has co-authored an article with the Honorable Pamela E. Loza in the January 2015 newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association‘s Section on Family Law. January 2015, vol. 58, no. 7 The legal and ethical conundrum of child support in multi-partnered families By Hon. Pamela E. Loza and Margaret A. Bennett

Every state utilizes guidelines to uniformly calculate child support obligations for multi-partnered families. Child support obligations are a reality in that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce; two-thirds of women and three-fourths of men remarry; and many start second families.[1] Further, more and more children each year are born to unmarried women. According to Illinois Department of Public Health statistics, the percentage of all children born in Illinois to unmarried women increased from 25 percent in 1984 to 41 percent in 2010.[2] That percentage increases to 50 percent for women with less than a post-secondary education, and to almost 80 percent for African-American women residing in Chicago.

Data from Wisconsin-based Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cases illuminates the complexity of multi-partnered families.[3] On average, more than half of all mothers with a three-year association with TANF had children with two or more fathers. In nine percent of these situations, the fathers also had children with other women.[4] Further, when women had children with just one man, he was the father of children with at least one other woman 16 percent of the time.[5] Applying guidelines to calculate child support obligations in these scenarios presents complex challenges. To accomplish this daunting task, states generally employ one of three basic methods including the Melson formula, the percentage of income model, and the income shares model.

Melson Formula – Utilized in Delaware, Hawaii, and Montana, this formula reflects public policy considerations of a parent’s personal minimal support needs that should be met before he or she can support the needs of others.[6] However, public policy also recognizes that additional enhancement of a parent’s financial circumstance is impermissible until the parents jointly meet their child’s primary support needs. Finally, the child’s standard of living should adjust in proportion to the parents’ improved standard of living.

Once a parent’s minimal support allowance and the child’s standard of living is established, each parent is assigned a prorated share of the child’s subsistence standard based on the total share of the parent’s income.[7] A percentage of any additional income is then utilized to improve the child’s standard of living. Proponents of the Melson formula argue that although it appears complex relative to other models, it is the fairest and most internally consistent of the three. The formula minimizes differences between low and high income earning parents, addresses special custody relationships, and contemplates the needs of children and their parents.[8]

Percentage of Income Model- Illinois and nine other states including New York, Texas, and Wisconsin utilize the percentage of income model to calculate child support obligations.[9] The IMDMA, 750 ILCS 5/505 provides that “[t]he duty of support owed to a child includes the obligation to provide for the physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child.”[10] While all jurisdictions require Financial Affidavits from both parties, only the noncustodial obligor’s income is considered when calculating support obligations in the vast majority of cases. A percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income is calculated to determine the minimum amount of support owed per child. For example, the noncustodial parent owes 20% of his or her net income to support one child, and 28% for two children. When making a child support calculation for parents with multiple children from multiple partners in Illinois, the guidelines provide that a paid child support obligation arising out of an existing court order is deducted from the parent’s gross income before applying the percentage for child support.

The result of this formula is an uneven payment of child support such that the oldest child receives more than his or her younger sibling from a different partner. The Illinois legislature traditionally considered the first in time, first in right approach fair because the oldest child should not receive less support due to the non-custodial parent’s actions. However, this theory is fatally flawed because it benefits older children to the detriment of their younger siblings. The progressive New Jersey process creates the most equitable results for multi-partnered families. In New Jersey, the guidelines vest the court with the authority to review and adjust all support orders in a consolidated proceeding by averaging the orders or fashioning some other resolution that treats all supported children fairly.[11]

Admittedly, at least in Cook County, the ability to authorize consolidation and review of multiple family situations could have far reaching and dire effects on an already overwhelmed court system. This could lead to costly and time-consuming litigation. However, the first in time, first in right approach is archaic and unjust. New legislation promulgated by the ISBA Family Law Section Council seeks to address these concerns by utilizing an income shares model to calculate child support obligations rather than the archaic percentage of income model.

Income Shares Model- Forty states, as well as, Washington D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands, utilize the income shares model to calculate child support obligations.[12] This approach is based on economic analysis showing that the proportion of a parent’s income devoted to children in intact families declines as income increases. A lesser percentage of income is spent on necessities such as food, lodging, medical and education. Application of this rule should result in the noncustodial parent paying approximately what the parent would have paid if the family had remained intact.

Unlike the percentage of income model, the income shares model requires income information from both parents. Each parent’s net income is determined based upon gross income minus either the standardized or individualized tax amount. Parents then are responsible for their prorated share of child support thereby creating a more comprehensive, fair, and flexible process of determining child support obligations as compared to the one size fits all percentage of income guidelines. The court may issue minimum support orders to parents living below the poverty line, and individualized income guidelines may be utilized to determine a child’s physical care needs when one or both parents have prior child support obligations to other children. Movement to the income shares model is a step in the right direction for Illinois but does it go far enough? One possible solution would be to give the court greater authority and discretion to review and adjust child support orders on a case-by-case basis in the best interests of all children.  


[2] See ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH (last visited November 5, 2014), <>.


[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] See Child Support Guideline Models by State, NCSL: NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES, <> (last updated April 2013).

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] 750 ILCS 5/505.


[12] See Child Support Guideline Models by State, NCSL: NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES, <> (last updated April 2013).

Free Financial, Legal, and Empowerment Seminar!

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Margaret A. Bennett will be an event panelist at the Wintrust Financial Center located at 9700 W. Higgins Road, 2nd Floor, Rosemont, Illinois. Ms. Bennett will be one of seven presenters focusing on financial, legal, and empowerment for separated, divorced, or widowed women. The seminar will have two sessions as follows:

  • Day Session: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (includes lunch)
  • Evening Session: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (includes dinner)

The seminar consists of seven presenters from all different fields and includes:

This seminar will help women:

  • Gain strategies on how to become financially independent;
  • Learn insights about family and divorce law;
  • Grasp important aspects of estate planning, wills and trusts;
  • Get educated on pertinent accounting/tax information;
  • Learn how to embrace and accept change;
  • Understand the emotional issues of grief, loss, and recovery;
  • Receive an update on the housing market and mortgage criteria; and
  • Share with a network of women in similar situations.

Please go to or call Wendy Schenker at (847) 939-9654 by January 28, 2015, to reserve your spot today. February 4, 2015, Women in Transition Event Brochure