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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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DuPage County child support and parenting time attorneyThe average cost of raising a child from birth until age 18 is almost $300,000. If you are a single parent, you know just how quickly child-related expenses can add up. Child support is a vital source of financial assistance that many single parents come to depend on. When an obligor parent is not paying his or her court-ordered child support, the recipient parent may wonder what he or she can do to make the other parent pay. In some cases, the parent who is owed child support may decide to withhold visitation, technically called parenting time, from the other parent until he or she becomes current on his or her child support payments. However, withholding visitation can have significant civil and criminal consequences.

Parenting Time and Child Support Are Two Separate Issues Under Illinois Law

Illinois law considers child support and parenting time to be two distinct concerns. A court will not limit a parent’s access to his or her children because he or she falls behind on child support. The only time that a parent should be denied parenting time is if there is proof that allowing court-ordered parenting time would present a danger to the well-being of the child. If your child’s other parent is not paying child support, this does not negate his or her legal right to parenting time. In fact, by withholding your child from the non-paying parent, you may be violating your parenting plan, and you could face serious consequences as a result. You may face fines, the suspension of your driver’s license, probation, mandated parenting classes, and even jail time. Even more importantly, refusing to let your child see the other parent may punish your child more than it punishes the non-paying parent.

How to Enforce an Illinois Child Support Order

If your child’s other parent has stopped making child support payments, you do have several options for enforcing payments. You can file a petition with the court to enforce child support obligations, and different methods may be used to collect the support that is owed, including but not limited to:

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Wheaton Child Support Non-Payment LawyerUnder Illinois law, both parents are obligated to financially support their children. As of July 2017, Illinois uses the income shares method of calculating child support. The income shares formula considers the income of both parents to determine the amount of child support that one parent, the obligor, must pay to the other, the recipient.

 If you are the obligor parent, it is important to make your payments in full and on time. If you are unable to adhere to the terms of your court-ordered child support payment plan, speak with an attorney regarding your options. Non-payment of child support carries significant legal ramifications.

Illinois Penalties for Non-Payment of Child Support

When a person fails to make their child support payments in full and on time, the recipient parent may work with the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), a branch of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, to obtain the money owed. This can come in the form of direct wage deductions, seizure of bank accounts, securing the obligor parent’s tax refunds, and even placing a lien on the obligor parent’s property.

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Illinois child support lawyersIn the aftermath of a divorce, both parties have a lot to contemplate: where will I live, will I be financially comfortable, what will happen to my children? In a large number of divorce cases involving children, one parent is granted primary custody of the children involved. For most of the parents granted primary custody of their children, receiving child support payments from their former spouse can make all the difference in ensuring a healthy financial future.

Tragically, less than 70% of all child support payments owed, are actually received by the spouse in need. If you are owed child support payments and your former spouse is unwilling to comply, it may be time to consider seeking the help of a team of legal professionals.

U.S. Child Support Statistics

In 2013 alone, over $32 billion in child support were owed to primary custody parents, throughout the United States. While many people falsely believe that child support payments are incredibly high and can be crippling to the spouse making the payments, the average annual child support payment is approximately $5,775, per year. That ultimately results to less than $500 per month in child support payments. Child support payments can make the ultimate difference in a child’s life, but many parents neglect to do their part. According to the United States Census Bureau, one in four primary custody parents awarded child support never receive the payments they are owed.

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