Ways Nonpayment Of Child Support Can Ruin Your Life
A divorce can be incredibly upsetting and challenging when children are involved. Spouses frequently disagree over child support, child custody, visitation, who will make which decisions, and more. In some cases, there can be arguments about child support not being paid and dealing with the fallout of that problem. This blog post details various aspects of Illinois child support, including the consequences of non-payment. If you are dealing with a child support problem, our child support lawyers in Chicago may be able to assist you.
Child Support Overview In Illinois
In the past, child support laws in Illinois were based on a percentage system. Courts used a child support schedule in 750 ILCS 5/505 to determine the child support obligation. This old law led to many unfair child support arrangements and was not in line with the systems other states use.
Starting July 1, 2017, the percentage model was replaced with the income-shares model. The new child support model considers many factors in deciding what each parent should contribute to the financial aspects of raising the child. The result can sometimes be similar to the old percentage system, but it allows some parties to devise a fairer contribution system to raise the child. The law accounts for more factors than simply how much money you make. It also considers parenting time, the basic child support obligation, and other expenses related to raising a child.
Also, how income is treated changed. Today, the net income of both parties is added and called the Total Family Income. Instead of the paying party’s income, the new basis for the child support payments is the Total Family Income.
As with many issues in family law, the divorce court judge may make specific considerations based on the unique situation. The judge has wide latitude when considering what to make the child support payment, including:
- The child’s educational needs
- The emotional and physical state of the child
- Your child’s possible quality of life if you had stayed married
- Other factors in the specific situation
Many legal experts in Illinois say that the income-shares system makes more sense than the previous system. Many Illinoisians live in dual-income families and it is logical to calculate various factors into the child support equation, recognizing each item for its value.
What Happens When Child Support Is Not Paid?
Even with the new income-shares model for child support, child support issues happen often. However, remember that under Illinois laws, both parents have a financial obligation to support their children.
Not paying child support can have severe repercussions and even ruin your life. For starters, you can be held in contempt of court, be forced to pay steep fines, and even go to jail. When child support continues to be unpaid, a federal Child Support Enforcement system works with the state and others to ensure that children are financially supported by their parents. The national program can find non-custodial parents, prove paternity, establish support obligations, and enforce the child support order.
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services oversees child support in the state and enforces the law through its regional offices. The court’s child support orders are put into the Department’s database, and payments are checked regularly. If the other parent tells the Department that the other parent is not paying child support, collection efforts will begin. This can be done automatically if the paying parent receives state or federal public assistance.
Potential Penalties For Not Paying Child Support
The child support laws in Illinois are intended to protect the interests of all children in the state where there is a divorce or separation. If child support is not paid, there are potentially severe consequences. If you are the parent not receiving child support as the court orders, your child support attorney in Chicago can help you enforce the order. Some of the actions and penalties that can happen when child support is not paid include:
- Withholding income from the parent’s wages, Social Security, workers’ comp, VA disability compensation, and more.
- Wage garnishment – employers can withhold child support payments until the balance is paid.
- Bond – if the parent does not have income withheld, the state can require them to post a bond or another payment guarantee.
- Garnishing federal and state tax refunds
- Reports to credit bureaus
- Bank account seizures
- Using private collection agencies
- Revocation of passport, driver’s license, recreational, and occupational licenses
Possible Criminal Prosecution
If child support is not paid for months, criminal prosecution is possible. The US government can prosecute if the non-custodial parent does not pay child support for more than six months or owes over $5,000. Penalties can include imprisonment and fines, with the penalties increasing the longer payments are not made. For instance, it is a Class A misdemeanor for not paying child support for six months or owing over $5,000. It is a Class 4 felony with one to three years in jail for owing more than $20,000.
If you are not receiving the support you are entitled to, you are probably most concerned with getting the money you are owed. But you may be concerned about your future if you are struggling with child support payments. Our Chicago child support attorneys can review your case and determine the best options in either situation.
What To Do If You Cannot Pay Child Support In Illinois
The circumstances of life can change, and a change in your finances could mean not being able to pay court-ordered child support. If this occurs, you have options but must act promptly. Not paying child support and not dealing with the situation can lead to severe consequences that can ruin your life.
The first option is to modify your child support option. If you cannot make child support payments because of a change in financial circumstances, you should talk to your attorney about modifying your child support order in court. You need to explain to the judge your financial situation and why you cannot afford the payments. Then, you can ask for the payment to be reduced, but you still will be responsible for any back child support owed.
Illinois allows you to ask for a child support modification every three years or when circumstances change, such as a 20% increase or decrease in income. Other reasons include health insurance rates, geographic location, and changes in expenses. Parents must complete a Certification of Income and Expenses for the court review. You must disclose your financial balances, work status, and related information.
The second option is to consider filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, depending on your circumstances. When you submit your bankruptcy application, an automatic stay stops any garnishments, bank levies, foreclosures, or creditors from contacting you. But the stay does not affect any ongoing child support collection activities. So, you will still be liable for child support as the family court ordered.
You may not get further behind on child support obligations from the time the bankruptcy petition is filed until discharge. If you are already behind when you file, you cannot get further behind and you must make child support payments until the bankruptcy discharge is received.
How To Enforce Child Support Orders
The state government in Illinois frequently has a backlog of child support cases. Instead of working through the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), another option is working with your child support attorney through the family court system. This might give you a faster result and more options.
If the other party does not or refuses to pay child support, you can ask for a hearing in front of an Illinois judge. The non-custodial parent should receive an official document through a process server ordering them to appear. The parent who is not paying will be allowed to explain why they are not paying. If they do not show up, the court could issue a warrant for their arrest.
Even if the non-paying parent attends, the judge can sentence them to jail for not paying child support. Depending on the reason for not paying, the family court judge could order them to make payments in the future or agree to a schedule of payments to make up for unpaid obligations. The judge also can require the person’s wages to be garnished, or a lien can be put on their property.
The judge may not send the non-paying parent to jail because someone in prison cannot work. But depending on how severe the matter is, it is possible. Jail time could only be on the table if withholding income or wage garnishment is impossible because of the parent’s type of work.
Contact Our Child Support Lawyer In Chicago Today
When children are involved in a divorce, there can be many disagreements about them, including child support. Our child support lawyer in Chicago at Law Office of Fedor Kozlov is highly skilled in complex child support cases and may be able to resolve the issues you have. For instance, if the other parent is not paying child support, our attorney can help to ensure that the child support order is enforced. Please call (847) 241-1299 to talk to one of our attorneys today.