A new law directs the Illinois Division of Child Support Services within the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to conduct a study to examine why parents do or do not uphold their child support obligations. The study is part of the state’s effort to increase efficiency and to address the root causes of nonpayment.
Issue of Unpaid Child Support in Illinois
Unpaid child support is a significant problem in Illinois. According to the Attorney General, there are almost half a million child support cases in the Illinois Child Support Program, involving more than 517,000 children. A large number of parents comply with their obligations, and the system collects $289 million annually. Many do not comply, and non-compliant parents owe upwards of $3 billion in back payments. That three billion dollars represents more than just money; it is indicative of lost opportunities for numerous children.
Citing these lost opportunities, primarily those related to education, State Representative Camille Lilly, of Chicago, introduced the new measure requiring Child Services to study noncompliance. Passed by the House and Senate earlier this year and approved by Governor Bruce Rauner in August, the study seeks to understand the factors causing nonpayment in hopes that legislators can then find ways to make the child support program more efficient.
Child Support Requirements
In Illinois, parents have a duty to support their children’s reasonable and necessary educational, physical, mental, and emotional health needs. Upon a proceeding for divorce, legal separation, or annulment, the court may order either one or both parents to pay a reasonable amount of child support. Although the court could order either or both parents to pay child support, most cases in Illinois require the noncustodial parent to pay a certain percentage of his or her income for each child, based on statutory guidelines. In certain circumstances, taking into account the financial circumstances of the custodial parent and the child’s physical and emotional needs, the court may deviate from the statutory guidelines.
In Illinois, a parent who fails to comply with a court order to pay child support can face serious consequences. The court could potentially find the parent guilty of contempt of court and place the parent on probation or even sentence the parent to imprisonment, so long as the sentence does not exceed six months and the court periodically allows the parent to be released for work. In addition to these penalties, a delinquent parent might also face wage withholding, an order to provide the court with monthly financial information, property liens, suspension of his or her driver’s license, intercepted tax refunds, and adverse credit bureau reports.
Contact Our Attorneys Today for a Consultation
If you are party to a child support order and the noncustodial parent is not upholding his or her obligations, you are able to petition the court for post-decree enforcement. Contact our skilled and compassionate St. Charles family law attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C.. We will meet with you to discuss your case and help you understand your options under the law.