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....
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:...
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....
Calculating child support is one of the most important aspects of a custody case, as the result has the significant likelihood of affecting a child’s life for years to come. Often, a change in one of the parents’ financial circumstances, such as a new employment opportunity, requires courts to reevaluate that person’s monetary contribution. In a recently issued opinion, an Illinois Court of Appeals clarified what constitutes a material change in circumstances such that child support must be modified.
In re Marriage of Fortner
In 2002, Rob Fortner and Shelley S. Scanlan were married and subsequently had a child. In 2003, the couple separated, and an Illinois court ordered that Mr. Fortner pay $313.11 a month in child support. In 2014, Mr. Fortner successfully brought a wrongful death claim against the hospital that treated his father during a fatal heart attack. After deductions for attorney’s fees and other costs of litigation, Mr. Fortner received $169,725.48. Ms. Scanlan then filed a motion to modify child support based on Mr. Fortner’s changed circumstances, although Mr. Fortner argued that the settlement did not constitute increased income for purposes of child support allocation....
One of the fundamental questions decided during a divorce revolves around child support. In virtually all cases involving minor children, the parent with whom the children will primarily live - the custodial parent - is entitled to receive monetary assistance from the non-custodial parent to help with the needs of the children. In Illinois the laws established a formula for determining the measure of child support that is appropriate under different circumstances.
The Law in Illinois...