Illinois Child Support And Wage Garnishment Laws
Child support questions are a complex and challenging aspect of many Illinois divorces. Our Chicago child support attorney at the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov understands that child support issues can make reaching an amicable divorce solution difficult. This is especially true if child support is unpaid and wage garnishment is involved.
Learn all about child support and wage garnishment laws in this post, then speak to our experienced Illinois child support attorneys at (847) 241-1299. Our attorneys will work closely with you and keep you informed every step of the way.
Recent Changes To Illinois Child Support Laws
If you have a child support question, you should understand that child support laws have changed recently. Before, the state used a percentage model to determine what parents were responsible for paying child support. The old law used a percentage of the supporting spouse’s net income and the number of children. This law led to many unfair child support agreements, so the law was changed in 2017.
Today, the state uses an income-shares model to determine child support. The new model accounts for several factors determining what each parent should contribute. While the final outcome is often similar to the old method, the new law allows some parents to create a more balanced, fair child support method for raising their kids. In the past, child support was simply determined by a formula. Now, the child support law takes many more factors into account, such as:
- Basic child support obligation
- Parenting time
- Additional child-related expenses
Also, how the courts treat income has changed. Each parent’s net income is added and considered part of the total family income. Instead of being based on the paying parent’s income, total family income is considered when child support payments are determined.
The family court judge also could consider special circumstances based on the unique aspects of the family. The judge also can consider other factors when deciding on a child support figure:
- Each child’s educational needs
- The emotional and physical needs of the children
- The child’s probable quality of life if you had stayed married
Laws For Modifying Child Support Orders In Illinois
Just because a child support order is in place does not mean it cannot be changed. There are laws in the state that allow a child support order to be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if you have permanently reduced work hours, you could file a motion with the court to reduce your child support obligation.
However, a child support order can only be changed every three years, or if circumstances have changed significantly. While you can request a modification, no guarantee will be granted. The judge will evaluate the situation and determine if a modification in the child support payment is in the child’s best interests.
What Happens If A Parent Does Not Pay Child Support?
Not paying child support in Illinois can bring severe consequences for the parent behind on payments. The state of Illinois takes not paying child support seriously and will employ multiple measures to ensure that your children receive the support they need. The consequences can include:
- Wage garnishment (see more about this below)
- License suspension
- Tax refund seizure
- Passport denial
- Reporting to the three credit bureaus
- Contempt of court charges
- Criminal charges
More about these consequences are detailed below.
Wage Garnishment For Unpaid Child Support
Since the late 1980s, all family court orders for child support feature an automatic income withholding order. This means the other parent can obtain a wage garnishment order from the family court if the other parent is behind on their child support. However, federal law places limits on this form of wage garnishment. The wage garnishment process for child support in Illinois allows the following:
- Deduction of child support payments from the parent’s paycheck
- Ensuring that payments are made on time
- Administration of wage garnishment through the Illinois Division of Child Support Services
- Contacting the employer of the person paying support
The law states that up to 50% of a parent’s disposable income can be garnished for overdue child support payments if you are supporting a child or spouse who is not a subject of the court order. If you are not supporting a child or spouse, up to 60% of your wages can be garnished.
Wage garnishment is frequently an effective way to ensure that parents pay child support as long as the party has a stable job. Also, employers who do not withhold child support payments in the state can be fined.
Your driver’s license can also be suspended if you do not pay child support. Illinois Child Support Services can issue an order to withhold, suspend, or revoke a driver’s license or professional license. This measure is another strong deterrent for parents considering not paying child support.
However, before any license is suspended or revoked, the agency will warn the parent and offer a grace period to catch up on child support payments. However, if the parent does not make the payments on time, their license may be revoked or suspended.
Moving to another state will not protect you from a driver’s license suspension. Your license from any state can be suspended for nonpayment of child support.
Contempt Of Court
If someone knowingly disobeys a court order, such as for child support, they can be held in contempt. You could face various penalties when you are found in contempt of court. For instance, the judge could put you on probation or force you to make regular payments. The court also may be able to send you to jail, impose fines, and suspend your driver’s license and other professional licensing.
Wage garnishment and license suspension are not the end of potential consequences for late child support payments. Not paying child support regularly can result in a Class 4 felony charge, resulting in six months in jail and up to a $25,000 fine.
Criminal prosecution for not paying child support is a severe step, and the possibility of jail time, fines, and a criminal record typically encourages parents to pay what they owe.
Common Child Support Questions And Answers
Learn more about child support issues with these common questions and answers:
How Long Do You Need To Pay Child Support?
Usually, the parent is required to pay child support until their child turns 18, or until they graduate from high school, whichever is later. If the child has a disability, the parent may have to pay child support when the child is beyond 18. You also may be required to pay for your child’s college education.
How Do I Get Child Support?
You do not automatically get child support during the divorce. If you want child support from your ex-spouse, you must take the necessary administrative or judicial action. Our child support attorney in Illinois can assist you with requesting child support.
How Are Child Support Payments Obtained From My Employer?
An income withholding order will be sent to your employer, informing them of the amount to withhold from each check. It does not matter how often you are paid. The State Disbursement Unit processes the payment.
How Do I Receive A Copy Of My Payment History?
You can print a copy of your payment history through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services website once you have set up an account there. However, this is only a payment verification, not a legal document you can use in court proceedings. The balances have not been certified.
Do I Still Need To Pay Child Support If I Receive Social Security?
Yes. Your child support payments will be garnished from your check if you receive Social Security. But your child may qualify for a Social Security Dependent Allotment, which will be paid directly. The allotment amount will be applied to your child support obligation in this situation. If the allotment is more than the child support amount, you do not need to have funds withheld from your Social Security check.
Our Child Was Adopted. Do I Need To Pay Child Support?
Your current child support obligation is over on the date of the adoption unless otherwise ordered by the family court. But if you owed a balance when the adoption occurred, you still need to pay until the balance has been satisfied.
I Am Out Of Work. Do I Still Need To Pay Child Support?
Yes. You still must pay child support unless the court modified your order. You can ask for a child support modification at the court where the child support order was issued. You should continue to make child support payments while waiting for a modification decision.
On a related note, your child support obligation does not decrease automatically if your income decreases. You must ask the court for a modification of the child support order.
Contact Our Chicago Child Support Attorneys Today
If you need assistance with your child support case, our Chicago child support attorney at the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov can review the matter and offer his legal expertise. Call our Chicago office today for a consultation at (847) 241-1299. Our attorneys can deal with all aspects of your divorce, including child support, child custody, asset division, alimony, domestic violence, and more.