Divorces are never pleasant, especially if a couple has children. While a couple may opt to completely change their routes after divorce, it’s really not an option if there are children involved. Even after a couple parts ways, they have to continue being parents to their children. They’re both responsible for ensuring that all needs of a child – educational, physical, emotional, and mental – are met.
When couples separate, they must be in agreement over how the children will be supported financially. This agreement could be done mutually or through the court. However, a couple decides to take things forward, the child support agreement has to be filed in the court as an official, enforceable, child support order. If the paying parent fails to follow the agreement, the parent with child custody should consult a Cook County child support attorney to ensure that the support order is enforced.
A child is the responsibility of both parents – one that they can’t close their eyes. The law makes sure that child support is enforced and that the agreed financial support is provided for the children. If you would like to know how child support enforcement in Illinois works, you’ve landed at just the right place.
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How Does Child Support Enforcement Work?
A child support enforcement order makes it a must for the paying parent to support their children financially. If the paying parent fails to pay the agreed amount, the court intervenes and ensures that the child support is enforced, per the Non-Support Punishment Act. The amount of financial support that a child/children are entitled to is calculated according to special legal rules. Parents can agree over a minimum amount, that too is set by the law. However, if you want to know how exactly the amount for child support is calculated, continue to the next section.
Calculating Child Support Amount
Different states have different specifications for how child support is calculated. In the past, a percentage-based formula was used in Illinois to calculate the amount that the paying parent was obligated to pay. However, at present, an income-share model is being employed.
According to the income-share model, both parents are obligated to share the expenses of the child. The state uses the information about how much income do both parents earn combined and had they not separated, how much they would have spent on their child. The court considers the following factors to decide what amount of financial support will be in the best interests of the child:
- The emotional and physical condition of the child
- Educational needs
- Child’s standard of living
- The financial resources of both parents combined
While there is a set formula, the court may deviate and make adjustments if:
- The combined income of both parents is very low
- If one of the parents is suffering from a medical condition
- If the child is a special needs child
- Any other reason that deems the set formula insufficient, inappropriate, or unjust
The Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services has a helpful income shares calculator if you want to get an idea of what the baseline will be.
Child Support Enforcement
Once the amount of child support is agreed upon by both parents, the agreement is filed in court. The court takes the responsibility of ensuring that the child support collection is done timely. If one of the parents fails to make the payment for their share, the court takes the case up and sends out a legal notice and ensures that the child doesn’t have to suffer due to any negligence on the part of parents. Child support enforcement is something the court takes responsibility for – and they take this role very seriously!
Let’s have a look at what is the process of child support enforcement a bit in detail:
Who Receives the Payments?
The state department that is responsible for child support enforcement in Illinois is the Department of Child Support Services, abbreviated as DCSS. The department undertakes a non-judicial process to ensure the payments are processed on time. It collects the checks from the paying parent and ensures that the receiving parent gets it. It also ensures the enforcement of child support orders from the court.
What Happens if Child Support Isn’t Paid?
There are cases where one or both parents are negligent about their child, and that’s why the child support enforcement has been set in place. The DCSS, as you know by now, keeps a record of the accounts and if the paying parent skips a scheduled payment, the DCSS can employ any of the following methods to make the parent pay the dues:
- Hire private agencies to collect child support dues
- Refer serious cases to a federal or state prosecutor, who has the authority to undertake criminal investigation against the negligent paying parent
- Refer the case to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to attempt to extract the monetary dues form the parents
- Intercept the federal and state tax refunds
- Get in touch with the Department of Professional Regulations to suspend the vocational and professional licensing of the negligent parents for a period of three or more months. They may even opt to suspend the driver’s license as well
- Refer the case to the United States State Department that will lead to the denial of all passport requests of the parents who owe $2500 or more in child support dues
- Submit the case of failed child support to the Comptroller that will submit the report to the credit bureau. It will damage the credit score of the paying parent
- Initiate contempt proceedings that require the paying parent to explain the reasons for not acting upon the orders. If the case is serious, it can even lead to jail time or probation
- Refer the case to the Department of Treasury and have benefits withheld
- Get a lien against the land or property of the paying parent who has failed at clearing child support dues in time. the parent won’t be able to sell or even transfer the ownership till they don’t clear all the dues
- Charge interests
- If the parent has fallen behind by $5000 or more, DCSS can add their name to the deadbeats’ most-wanted list
- Seize assets, garnish bank accounts, and withhold income paychecks
Child support enforcement is a serious matter, and the DCSS has complete authority to do whatever it takes to ensure that the child support orders are enforced.
Termination of Child Support In Illinois
The obligation of the parents to pay child support ends when the child turns 18 years of age. If the child is attending full-time high school after their 18th birthday, the parents are obligated to pay child support until either the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever of the two happens first. If the child is mentally or physically disabled, the period for which the parents have to pay child support can be longer.
Child Support Enforcement FAQs
If you’re going through a rough patch of divorce or separation, you may have numerous questions that you would want answers to. Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions have been given below:
What can be done if a parent doesn’t cooperate?
In case a parent doesn’t pay the child support in due time, the district attorney sends out a legal notice to the parent to set a meeting and discuss arrangements. Also, the DCSS attorney can take bolder steps that have been discussed in detail above.
Can child support enforcement work through another state if one of the parents moves?
Yes. The respective state department makes sure that the non-custodial parent pays the child support, no matter what state within the US they move to.
Can a non-custodial parent be made to clear previous child support dues?
Yes. The court makes the non-custodial parent pay the child support dues in any case. Even if they request for a reduction in amount, they’ll still be required to clear the previous dues in full.
Is it possible to make an ex-partner pay under child support for the past years if it’s filed now?
No. the parent with child custody is only entitled to receive child support payment from the point they filed the request in the court.
Contact Tommalieh Law Today for Resolution to Any Child Support Issues
Matters of child custody and child support enforcement can be quite complicated, especially if one of the parents are uncooperative or negligent. However, opting to obtain the services of an Illinois family lawyer at Tommalieh Law can make your life a lot easier. The most reliable and promising child support enforcement services are a call away. Give them a call at (708) 232-0017 and rest assured that the financial needs of your child will be met.