Getting and Enforcing Child Support Orders
Being a single parent is one of the hardest roles someone can fill. No one is there to take over and give the parent a break, and inevitably more of the financial burden falls on this parent. However, all parents have an ongoing obligation to financially support their child until he or she becomes a legal adult, and divorce or legal separation does not relieve this duty.
Child support is even more important today with the ever-rising costs associated with raising a child that is partially connected to new expectations of participation in extracurricular activities and use of technology. Thus, any parent who provides the bulk of childcare needs to be able to rely on regular child support payments to ensure enough money is available to provide for the child's needs.
Child support provisions are included in all divorce decrees between parties who share minor children and can also be obtained through a paternity action if the child's parents are unmarried. Understanding how the Court determines how much the child support payment should be, and how to enforce the obligation if a parent fails to pay, is essential information for any parent receiving this money.
Calculating Child Support
Parties are always free to form their own agreement on child support, but if an agreement is not possible, Courts will apply Illinois' simple and straightforward formula to set the amount of child support a parent must pay.
Child support is based on the net income of the non-custodial parent and the number of children subject to the child support order. For example, someone with three children will pay 32 percent of his or her net income towards child support. Net income is how much money a person takes home after certain deductions, including:
- Income tax;
- Union dues;
- Health insurance premiums; and
- Mandatory retirement contributions.
Note that Courts do have the option of deviating from the child support guidelines depending on certain factors, such as the financial resources of the parent with fewer parental responsibilities and the needs of the child.
The first line of defense used to ensure compliance with child support orders is to require the payor parent's employer to withhold the ordered amount from the employee's paycheck, and submit the funds to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (ISDU) for distribution to the custodial parent. Notice of the need to withhold funds is sent to the employer, and withdrawal must begin within 14 days of when the notice is received.
If the employer fails to comply with the Court's instructions, then the employer becomes responsible for the overdue child support and is subject to fines of $100 per day. Additionally, the payor parent is under a continuing obligation to notify the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) about changes in employment so the payments continue uninterrupted.
The state has a vested interest in parents paying child support regularly and on-time. Parents that cannot rely on child support are more likely to need public assistance, which puts greater strain on government resources. Thus, a number of options are authorized under Illinois law and available to Courts and DCSS to force compliance. These options include:
- Seizure of federal and state income tax refunds;
- Placement of liens on property;
- Seizure of financial accounts;
- Denial or revocation of U.S. passports;
- Suspension of a driver's license; and
- Submission of negative credit report to credit agencies.
Talk to a Family Law Attorney
Child support is a crucial component of a custodial parent's ability to support his or her child, and if you have questions or concerns about securing a child support order or enforcing an existing order, a passionate Palatine family law attorney is the best resource to resolve any issues. The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. understands the vital role of child support, and works with clients throughout northwest Chicagoland to get the best possible results. Contact the office for a free consultation.