All parents in Illinois are responsible for providing financial support for their children. This is a fairly straightforward matter during a marriage, but after divorce, it can become more complicated. In many cases, the non-custodial parent is responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent, and these payments are meant to help with daily expenses and costs associated with raising the child. Sometimes, a non-custodial parent may find him or herself in financial trouble, or he or she may want to punish the other parent by refusing to pay support. However, a non-custodial parent can face severe consequences for not paying court-ordered child support. Custodial parents should be sure to understand their options for enforcing payment of child support that is owed.
In some cases, a parent may work with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to enforce payment of child support. A parent may also work with a family law attorney to take legal action through the court. The consequences a non-paying parent may face include:
If a parent does not pay child support, his or her wages may be garnished to ensure that payments are made on time and in full. An Income Withholding for Support request will be sent to the parent’s employer. This notice will include instructions regarding the amount the employer should withhold from the parent’s paychecks and where to send that money. A wage garnishment order can ensure that ongoing child support obligations are met, or it may remain in effect until the entire balance of past-due child support is paid, along with interest....
When a court orders a parent to pay child support, this is many times done as part of a divorce case. The parent required to pay support typically must begin paying it from the date the order is issued. However, there may be cases in which a custodial parent would ask for child support to be paid for a time period before the order was issued. Usually, these cases involve unmarried parents, although sometimes, a spouse that was at one time married to the other parent may ask for retroactive child support as well.
Retroactive Child Support for Married Parents
Married parents cannot ask for retroactive child support dating as far back as the child’s birth. The law assumes that during the marriage, both parents were contributing to the support of the child, and as such, child support is not owed for that time. However, there are instances in which a spouse may still ask for retroactive child support as part of a divorce. This may address the period of time before the child support order is issued. In this case, the parent receiving the support for the child can ask for retroactive child support from the date a petition for child support was filed with the court.
For example, a father may be served divorce papers on February 1. On May 1, the mother may file a petition for child support. After being awarded child support on July 1, she may ask for retroactive support. This would provide support for the two months between the motion and the hearing. A judge has discretion at this point as to whether to award retroactive support or not....
During a divorce that involves children, one parent (typically the non-custodial parent) will usually be ordered to pay child support to the other parent. However, the one constant in life is change. When life changes affect a parent’s employment and the income he or she earns, modifications to child support orders may be necessary. This can ensure that a parent will not be required to make payments that he or she cannot afford, and it can make sure that both parents are continuing to meet their children’s financial needs.
Since Illinois law takes both parents’ incomes into account when determining child support, if either parent receives a promotion or an increase in pay, the amount of the parents’ child support obligations may need to be recalculated. If you need help modifying your child support order, you should work with an experienced family law attorney....
Most people know how much income they earn in a month or a year. Sometimes, however, determining the actual amount of income can become complicated. For example, what if you are an independent contractor, and your income is constantly in flux? Or, what if you are receiving Social Security benefits? These are just two situations in which determining how much income you have becomes tricky. However, your income will play a vital role in divorce proceedings, particularly when finalizing terms regarding child support and spousal maintenance. So, how do you define your income in divorce proceedings? In Illinois, these determinations are based on three different statutes: the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the Income Withholding for Support Act, and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA).
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
The UIFSA governs financial support obligations for divorced spouses who live in different states, and it has the broadest definition of income. Under the UIFSA, income is considered any earnings or property subject to withholding for support.
To understand this vague definition, you must first determine what income and other property is subject to withholding for support. This is outlined in the Income Withholding for Support Act....
A non-custodial parent who is ordered by a judge to pay child support may experience feelings of contempt and hostility toward his or her former partner. These strong emotions do not necessarily occur because a parent does not want to provide financially for his or her children, but they often result from a loss of control over one’s finances. With no way of knowing what those child support payments are being used for, a parent may worry about whether they are actually going toward the daily living expenses of the child or are being used to pay for other costs incurred by the custodial parent. A non-custodial may also wonder why he or she may be required to pay additional expenses as part of his or her child support obligations. So, what does child support actually pay for?
Basic Child Support Obligations
In Illinois, all parents have a legal obligation to provide for their children financially until the time a child turns 18. This support is meant to provide for the basic living expenses of the child, including food, clothing, housing and other basic needs. Essentially, child support payments are meant to provide for the child’s needs in a way that replicates a two-parent household. However, in addition to this basic support obligation, non-custodial parents may also be required to provide additional financial support that meets children’s other needs.
Additional Child Support Obligations
While a basic child support obligation is meant to provide for a child’s daily living expenses, Illinois law outlines four categories for additional child support above and beyond the basic obligation:...