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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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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerIt is decidedly common for a noncustodial parent to be dissatisfied about the amount of child support that a court has ordered them to pay. However, this does not excuse them from paying it, even while a modification may be pending. If you are owed child support by your former spouse, this is referred to as an arrearage, and it must be paid, regardless of what other obligations your ex-spouse may have. In Illinois, there are various ways to collect on the debt.

Penalties for Non-Payment

If you owe child support and fall behind in payments without working out an alternative with your ex-spouse (or the court), the state of Illinois will be informed, and possibly federal authorities, depending on your location and the amount owed. If you attempt to disappear to avoid obligations, there are entities such as the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) which exist to track down deadbeat parents, and you may be penalized more for attempting to shirk your commitments. In extreme cases, you may be jailed under the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act.

If you are located, there are multiple ways in which the state or federal government may obtain the amount owed (in addition to any penalties assessed for your failure to pay), including withholding your tax refund to put toward the arrearage or garnishing your wages. In Illinois, a program called the Family Financial Responsibility Act (known colloquially as the “Deadbeats Don’t Drive” program) also has the power to suspend or revoke your driver’s license until arrearages are paid. It is important to remember that these methods are intended to collect the back child support owed, while any penalties assessed on top of that may have to be paid in a different manner.

When Support Ends

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyWith the multiple issues that must be addressed during the divorce process, it is understandable that tackling the subject of your child’s future college expenses can feel overwhelming, especially when such educational concerns are not immediate. Preparing to fund an education set to take place in the very distant future may not be the first priority on your list while going through a divorce, but it is still an important task when it comes to securing the proper financial means for your child to expand their education down the road.

Who Is Responsible After the Split?

In many states across the nation, Illinois included, courts recognize a child’s need for a college education. This means the courts may have the right to order one or both parties in the divorce to pay for an array of college expenses for the child they share together. They may do this by tapping into the property and income of each parent, or even through the estate of a deceased parent. The law requires the petition for these funds to be raised within a certain timeframe.

Similar to awarding child support values, the amounts the court may order one (or both) of the parties to pay toward a child’s college expenses greatly depend on the circumstances, and the agreement must be negotiated. The court will take many factors into consideration before determining a certain amount. For example, at the time of the hearing, the party’s financial resources will be taken into account. The court may even look at a new spouse’s income. Say you remarry not long after your divorce and begin petitioning for financial help from your ex for your child’s college costs. If your new spouse makes a significant amount of money that raises your overall income considerably, the court may add that hike in income to the equation. So, the question of who is responsible for your child’s college costs will ultimately depend on a combination of these factors.

Which Expenses Count?

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