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Wheaton, IL child support enforcement attorneyAs any parent can tell you, children are expensive. Between education and childcare, housing, groceries, healthcare, and other child-related costs, raising a child without financial assistance from the child’s other parent can be a major struggle. Parents have a moral responsibility and a legal obligation to provide for their child’s needs. Unfortunately, some parents try to evade this responsibility. If you are a single parent, and your child’s other parent is not paying child support, there are steps you can take to get the financial assistance you and your child deserve.   

Establishing a Child Support Order in Illinois

If you and your ex have casually agreed on a child support arrangement, unfortunately, there is not much that the courts can do to enforce this arrangement. That is why it is important for any divorced or unmarried parent to get an official child support order from the court. If your child’s father is not paying child support, but he never signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or otherwise established his legal relationship with your child, you will need to establish paternity before you can get a child support order.

Enforcing an Existing Child Support Order

If you already have a child support order, but your child’s other parent is not abiding by the order, there are several things you can do to assert your right to receive child support. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is the agency that enforces child support orders in Illinois. You may also be able to enforce the order through the court system. Parents who do not pay child support can face several significant consequences including:

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Wheaton, IL prenuptial agreement attorneyThe silver lining in any divorce is the hope for a better future. Many divorced individuals eventually meet someone new and get remarried. If you have previously been married, and you are now planning to marry for a second or subsequent time, you are probably busy planning the wedding and building a life with your new partner. However, it is essential that you take the time to consider how your remarriage can impact the terms of your previous divorce. It is also important to start thinking about the unique issues that may be present in a second or third marriage.

Spousal Maintenance Typically Terminates Upon the Recipient’s Remarriage

Per Illinois law, spousal maintenance or alimony terminates if the recipient gets remarried. In addition, spousal maintenance usually terminates once the recipient begins cohabitating with a new partner. If you plan to remarry, you must inform your ex. If you do not tell your ex, and he or she pays you maintenance after you are remarried, you may be forced to reimburse him or her for any maintenance you received after the date of your marriage.

Child Support Can Be Influenced by Remarriage

Child support may or may not be influenced by the remarriage of either parent. Step-parents do not have a legal obligation to financially support their step-children the way that biological parents do. However, the court considers each parent’s financial circumstances when determining a fair child support payment amount. If a parent gets remarried, and this significantly increases the amount of disposable income the parent has, this may influence the amount of support he or she pays or receives.

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Wheaton, IL child support attorney for past-due support obligationsChild support payments are intended to provide a parent with the financial support he or she needs to cover housing, education, and other child-related costs. Illinois has adopted the “Income Shares” model for child support calculations. The amount a parent pays in child support in Illinois is typically based on the difference between the parents’ net incomes. This calculation method is designed to ensure that payments provide for the child’s needs and are reasonably affordable for the paying parent or “obligor.” However, circumstances can change, and obligor parents may find themselves in a situation where they cannot fulfill their child support obligations. If you are a parent who has fallen behind on child support payments in Illinois, you may wonder what types of consequences you may face. You may also question whether there is anything you can do to remedy the situation.

Child Support Arrears

Past due child support, or “child support arrears,” can cause significant legal problems for an obligor parent. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you fail to comply with the order, you may face a variety of consequences, including wage garnishment, liens on your property, interception of your tax returns, suspension of your driver’s license, and more. You may even be held in contempt of court.

Options for Illinois Parents Who Owe Child Support

If you cannot afford your child support payments because you lost your job, suffered a major injury or illness, or had other financial problems, you may wonder what to do next. The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation. You should contact your child’s other parent as well as the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Child Support Services and notify them of the situation. You may be able to reduce your child support obligation through a child support modification. However, this modification will only reduce the amount you will pay in new payments. You will still need to pay back the past due child support plus interest.

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Wheaton child support lawyerWhen married parents get divorced, or unmarried parents split up, one parent may be required to pay child support. The purpose of child support payments is to help the parent with the majority of parenting time pay for the costs associated with the child’s housing, nutrition, clothing, and other needs. Child support also helps ensure that a child with unmarried or divorced parents enjoys a standard of living that is similar to what he or she would have received if his or her parents were still married. However, child support can also be a significant expense for the paying or “obligor” parent – especially when the parent has more than one child support obligation.

Child Support Considerations for Parents with Multiple Families

If you are a parent who is already paying child support, and you are considering divorce, you may have questions about how the child support you currently pay will affect your new obligations. You may wonder if you will be required to pay child support to both families, and if so, how you will afford multiple obligations. Child support payment amounts are typically calculated using a statutory formula described in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The amount that a parent is asked to pay is determined through the “Income Shares” calculation method. The Income Shares model involves four main steps:

  • Each parent’s net income or “take home pay” is determined by subtracting certain expenses from the parent’s gross income. Expenses such as income tax, health insurance, child support obligations, and spousal support obligations are subtracted from the parent’s income for the purposes of child support calculations. This means that the amount you pay in child support for a second obligation takes into consideration the amount of child support that you are already paying.

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Wheaton child support attorneyIf you are a parent who relies on child support payments to cover the costs associated with your children’s housing, school and extracurricular activities, and child care, you know just how important this financial assistance is. When a paying parent or “obligor” fails to make child support payments in full and on time, this can lead to significant financial hardship. In many cases, child support non-payment is due to unemployment or underemployment. Read on to learn about how a parent’s employment status may influence the amount of child support they are required to pay.

Is the Obligor’s Employment Status Involuntary?

Illinois child support orders are calculated via the “Income Shares” model. The main factor in determining the amount of parents’ child support obligations is the net income each parent earns. If your child’s other parent is not working, working only part time, or earns a very low income, you may wonder how this will affect your child support order. 

To answer this question, the court must first determine whether a parent’s unemployment or underemployment is voluntary or involuntary. Involuntary unemployment or underemployment may qualify a parent for a lowered child support obligation. For example, if a parent has been laid off from their job due to no fault of their own, the amount they pay in child support may be reduced accordingly, although the court will likely require the parent to seek employment that will allow them to contribute toward their children’s needs. However, if a parent has quit his or her job, chooses to work limited hours, or lost his or her job but makes little effort to find gainful employment, this situation will likely be treated differently under Illinois law.  

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