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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 divorce lawyerChild support payments after a divorce in Illinois are determined via the Income Shares model. This calculation method takes into account the parents’ income and if the parents have a shared parenting arrangement, each parent’s allotted parenting time. Either parent may request a modification, or adjustment, to the child support order, however, these requests are not always granted. Sometimes, a parent may try to change a child support order in such a way that it places an unfair burden on the recipient parent. There are some situations in which it may be best to contest a child support modification request.

How Are Child Support Orders Changed?

Illinois child support orders are entitled to a modification review every three years. During a modification review, the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (IHFS) evaluates each parent’s financial circumstances and determines whether or not a child support order should be adjusted. Child support orders may also qualify for a modification if there is a “substantial change in circumstances” that necessitates the change or if the current order does not provide for the child’s healthcare needs. If a parent requests a modification but the other parent disagrees, he or she may contest the child support modification.

Reasons for Challenging a Child Support Modification

A parent cannot ask to reduce his or her child support obligation unless there is a valid reason. Job loss or a significant reduction in income is often cited as the justification for requesting such changes. However, if a parent quits his or her job, takes a voluntary pay cut, or chooses to work fewer hours, this is typically not a valid reason to request a lowered child support obligation. If a parent loses his or her job or is laid off involuntarily, he or she must make a good faith effort to find adequate employment. If a parent has the ability to earn a living, he or she cannot simply choose not to work in order to avoid paying child support. It may also be a good idea to contest a child support modification if the paying parent claims that he or she cannot afford the current child support order but is also spending money on extravagant and unnecessary purchases.

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Wheaton child support modification lawyerAccording to Illinois law, both of a child’s parents must financially contribute to their child’s upbringing – even if the parents are unmarried or divorced. Illinois child support payment amounts are calculated using the “income shares” method. This method uses each parent’s net income and the amount of parenting time assigned to each parent to determine an appropriate child support order. If a parent wants to change the terms of the child support order, he or she will need to petition the court for a child support modification.   

Modification Reviews Through DCSS

Child support orders are eligible for a “modification review” every three years. The Illinois Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will notify parents of their right to request a review of their current child support order. When a parent requests a review through DCSS, each parent will be asked to submit financial documentation which will be used to determine whether a modification is necessary.  

Substantial Changes in Circumstances

If it has not yet been three years since the end of a couple’s divorce or the last time a child support modification review was conducted, parents will typically only be able to request a modification if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” The following situations may qualify for a modification:

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Wheaton, IL child support modification attorney

Child support ensures that unmarried or divorced parents share the financial responsibilities of raising a child. Illinois courts calculate child support payments using the "income shares" model, and the amount of child support to be paid is based on the income of both parents, the amount of parenting time each parent has, and a number of other factors. If either parent wishes to change the child support order once it has been entered, he or she must petition to court to make this change.

Requesting a Child Support Modification  

Illinois child support orders can only be modified under certain circumstances. Child support orders are eligible for a modification review every three years. Parents can also request a modification if they can prove that a major change in circumstances necessitates the modification. Illinois courts have broad discretion to decide what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances. Some of the most common reasons that parents request a child support modification include:

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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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