Enforcing Child Support: Part 1
Every child in Illinois has the legal right to receive financial support from both parents. This responsibility does not end simply because parents divorce or separate. The payment of child support can be extremely important for a child's or parent's financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options.
If a parent wants to enforce a child support order without going to court, he or she may send a Notice to Withhold Income for Support both to the parent and to the parent’s employer. The parent’s wages will be garnished, and the child support will be paid directly out of the parent’s paycheck. Sometimes, however, the parents have previously agreed not to pursue income withholding, and this option is not available. Fortunately, several other enforcement methods are possible in Illinois.
Contempt of Court
A person can be held in contempt of court when he or she has intentionally violated a Court Order. Child support orders are Court Orders, and once the judge enters the order, the payor parent is required to pay the support amount. If the payor parent has not paid, the custodial parent may file a Petition for Rule to Show Cause. A hearing will be held, and the delinquent parent must show cause in court why he or she has not paid. If the parent cannot show a good reason that he or she did not pay, the Court can hold the parent in contempt of court, which can result in fines or jail time. The parent may also be required to pay interest on delinquent payments.
If the parent can show that he or she did not intentionally violate the child support order, the Court may find that the parent was not in contempt of court. If, for example, the parent shows that he or she was unemployed, the Court may require the parent to appear periodically in court to demonstrate that he or she is actively seeking employment.
Driver’s License Suspension
When a parent is more than 90 days delinquent in making child support payments, the parent’s driving privileges may be suspended. The parent seeking to enforce child support must simply provide an authenticated report to the Secretary of State, showing that the payments are overdue. There is no requirement for contempt charges, and 40 other states, along with Washington, D.C., recognize the suspension. The nonpaying parent’s driver’s license will be restored upon full payment of the overdue support.
If your co-parent is overdue in making child support payments, a dedicated family law attorney can guide and assist you in your collection efforts. Please contact skilled Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to schedule an initial consultation.