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IL child support lawyerMany people are struggling financially during these challenging times. If you are a parent with a child support obligation, you may sometimes have trouble making your payments. However, it is important to never simply stop making child support payments. Not only is child support nonpayment heavily penalized in Illinois, child support is also an important source of income for your child’s other parent. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, it is possible that you may be eligible for a reduced payment through a child support modification.

Penalties for Child Support Nonpayment in Illinois

If you have been ordered by the court to pay a certain amount in child support every month, these payments are not optional. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you do not pay, you could face major administrative or even criminal penalties. You may be subject to:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Property liens
  • Tax refund interception
  • Driver’s license revocation

Because not paying child support is in violation of a court order, it is also possible that you could be held in contempt of court or even charged with a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense. If you are struggling to make your support payments on time and in full, simply stopping payments is never the answer. Instead, petition the court for relief through a child support modification request.

Requesting a Child Support Modification

The amount a parent pays in child support is based on both parents' net incomes. Payment amounts are designed to be fair and reasonable while still providing the child the financial support he or she needs. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, you may be able to receive a reduced obligation through a child support modification. There are three main ways that a parent can be granted a child support modification:

  • You or the other parent have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. This change could be the loss of your job, a considerable reduction in your income, a considerable increase in the other parent’s income, or another major change.
  • The current child support order significantly deviates from the child support guidelines set forth by Illinois law and this deviation was not the court’s intention.
  • The current child support order does not account for the child’s healthcare needs.

If the reason you cannot pay your child support is that you were laid off at work or have experienced an income reduction, your child support obligation may go down. However, you will be expected to find suitable employment and show evidence of your attempts to do so.

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IL divorce lawyerAs the saying goes, the only thing constant in life is change. If you are a divorced or unmarried parent subject to a child support order, changes in your life or the life of the other parent may necessitate a child support modification. However, Illinois child support orders can only be modified under certain situations. Read on to learn about when child support orders are eligible for modification and what you should do if you need to request a child support adjustment.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order Through a Modification Review

Child support orders established by a judicial proceeding may only be changed through a court order. Administrative child support orders may be modified through the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). Every three years, child support orders are eligible for a “modification review” by the DCSS. If a parent wishes to take advantage of this opportunity, they will be asked to submit documents verifying their income. This information is used to determine whether or not the parents’ financial circumstances have changed significantly enough to warrant a child support modification. The dollar amount of child support payments may remain the same, increase, or decrease. If a parent disagrees with the results of the modification review, he or she has the right to request an administrative hearing or appear in court to contest the child support order.

Changing a Child Support Based on a “Substantial Change in Circumstances”

If you are not eligible for a modification review, you may still be able to change your child support order if the current order does not adequately provide for the child’s healthcare needs or if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”

Examples of substantial changes in circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • The child’s financial needs have increased due to school or extracurricular expenses, medical issues, or another valid reason
  • Either parent’s income has considerably increased or decreased
  • Either parent has lost his or her job
  • The child has turned 18 and graduated from high school
  • There has been a change in the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Modification Lawyer

Many parents find that they run into significant obstacles, complications, or delays when trying to modify a child support order. At Shaw Family Law, P.C, we help parents with a wide range of complex family law issues. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Kane County child support attorney from our firm, call us at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorces in which children are involved require legal assistance in a different sense than other divorce cases. Most parents do not come to a custody decision without some disagreements. It is uncommon for both parents to share equal custody of their children. One parent is named the “custodial parent” since the child lives primarily under their roof. The other parent is known as the “non-custodial parent”. The non-custodial parent does not pay for things such as groceries, clothes, or the gas needed to drive the child around every day, they are often required to provide the custodial parent with a set amount of money on a monthly basis in order to compensate for these expenses. These payment amounts are determined by a variety of factors. These include income, bonuses, properties owned, and other forms of financial value owned by both parents. Continue reading to learn how child support payments are regulated based on each individual’s situation.

Unique Solutions to Difficult Situations

Most parents do not have the “American dream job” that pays six figures and has them working 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. In reality, Americans work a variety of different jobs resulting in numerous “gray areas” for child support payments. Some individuals have the child support payments deducted from their paycheck by their employer to avoid missed payments while others place the responsibility on their own shoulders on a month to month basis. Regardless of the method used, these payments are due monthly and legal action can be taken against anyone who withholds these funds. For those purposely withholding child support payments, their wages can be garnished. This means that the amount will be forcibly removed from their paycheck before the parent receives it, taking away their ability to miss or avoid payments.

Some employers have refused to withhold the child support amount from paychecks despite being ordered to by a court or requested by an employee. While this is not always the case, it is not uncommon. Under every state’s law, an employer must withhold the amount if ordered or requested to do so. If this is the case, the employer will receive a withholding notice notifying them of their obligation. If the employer still refuses to do so, they will be charged the amount personally.

Child support payments can be increasingly difficult for parents that have recently lost their job. While this situation may not be the fault of the unemployed parent, the finances are still owed each month. The best solution in cases like these is a request for a payment adjustment. Because child support payments are determined based on a parent’s income and financial state, it can be adjusted if the parent cannot afford to pay the original allotted amount. If this request is made, a court may require the individual to seek out an employment program to help truncate the amount of time spent paying a lower amount.

For those that are self-employed, regulating income is still possible. This will be done through the Internal Revenue Service. While it may not be possible to withhold income through their employer, there are other forms of withholding that exist. Liens are holds on property until the amount owed is paid. This can include revoking required licenses, securing liens on client payments or garnishing the parent’s bank account.

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IL divorce lawyerFor those who have children and choose to get divorced, child support payments are inevitable. The parent who holds primary custody will often receive the child support payments since they spend the most time, and thus the most money, with the child. These payments are no longer percentage based. The court determines the amount of money needed to care for the child based on his/her parents’ income then divides this amount between the parents. The details of these payments are determined before the divorce papers can be made official; however, certain situations and life-altering events can result in necessary changes being made.

Recent Unemployment

Unemployment does not result in the ending of child support payments. The payments will simply no longer be taken out of your paycheck. If approved for unemployment benefits, the parent should then contact the unemployment office regarding their mandatory child support payments. These payments will then be deducted from their unemployment benefit wages.

Incarceration

If a parent becomes imprisoned and is required to pay child support, the parent can petition for his/her payments to be altered. Some courts will allow for the payments to be reduced or suspended while the parent is in prison. This is not always a guarantee. Often times, the judge will decide that the payments must continue to be paid throughout the parent’s sentence.

Death of a Non-Custodial Parent

The death of a non-custodial parent can cause extreme stress for a parent relying on this extra income to raise their child. There are multiple solutions that can be considered. If the deceased parent has a life insurance policy with the child as the beneficiary, the parent can begin collecting this money for the child immediately. Depending on the deceased parent’s previous employment, the child may also be subject to benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Death of a Custodial Parent

After deciding who will take primary care of the child, the payments will be determined. Payments from the parent's estate or a child support modification may be made if the other parent receives full-custody. If the child is placed into the hands of another relative, the payments should remain similar to their previous amount.

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinois child support lawyerWhen a child support order is created, it is created to provide for the child’s needs effectively based on his or her parents’ income level. It is rare for a child support order to remain appropriate until the child turns 18, the point at which most child support orders terminate. If you are currently paying or receiving child support and your order no longer covers your child’s needs, you can modify your child support order.

Child Support Orders Are Eligible for Review Every Three Years

In Illinois, a child support order can be reviewed every three years to determine if it still meets the child’s needs without creating an undue burden on the child’s parents. During this review period, you and your former spouse have the right to request a modification to your order. After requesting a modification, the court reviews your request to determine whether it is appropriate and applicable.

If you receive child support enforcement services from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, you must prove that a modification would result in a difference of at least 20 percent of your current child support amount and one created with an updated application to state guidelines during this review period.

If an Immediate Change Is Necessary, You Will Have to Prove Why It Is Necessary

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Illinois child support lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyFor many divorced parents, arranging a child support order can be a challenging process. While state programs and public assistance offer a reasonable amount of help, parents can often be at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining an order and ensuring the payment conditions are met. This is especially the case for high-conflict couples who struggle with communication, anger, and hurt following their divorce. It can be difficult for the custodial parent to know where to turn as they pursue child support, especially when they are unfamiliar or confused about the laws that surround it, and the non-custodial parent can feel overwhelmed and unclear on the control and distribution of their funds.

When Are You Eligible to Request Modifications to an Existing Order?

Once you have done all the footwork and have secured a proper child support order, you may find you need to make changes to that existing order, depending on a number of different circumstances. The court usually looks at two factors in particular when determining whether or not your order is eligible for modification:

  • Non-custodial parent income changes - In most cases, you can request a modification review if the non-custodial parent’s income has significantly increased or decreased. The revised order can reflect the changes in income and any other financial factors that may have changed since the original order went into effect. In general, families who receive public assistance typically receive a modification review every three years. If the supporting parent has lost their job or received a substantial raise, their order may be decreased or increased; and
  • Availability of health insurance - Along with financial changes, health insurance changes will be considered when determining whether or not a child support order can be modified. For example, if there is a health insurance lapse due to a gap in employment or financial hardship, the court may consider these factors. Any change in medical coverage that will affect the child’s medical care should be addressed and reflected in the support order.

General Modification Procedures

The process for changing your child support order may vary depending on whether you are working directly through the Illinois child support program or with a private attorney. Your order may be changed via judicial process or administrative process. Generally speaking, the state will conduct a review and may apply a cost-of-living adjustment. To identify which orders are eligible for review, the state may also use automated methods that assess wage and state income tax data to determine any necessary adjustments.

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