What Happens When Your Former Spouse Does Not Pay Child Support?

Chicago Divorce Attorneys

In many divorces, one parent is ordered to pay child support to the other. This is to help the parent who has the majority of the child’s parenting time to cover the expenses associated with raising a child, such as the need for a larger home, the need for a larger vehicle, increased food and utility expenses, and the child’s personal needs like clothing and school supplies. Like spousal support, child support is meant to prevent a child from facing financial struggles after his or her parents divorce.

Often, child support is paid to the receiving spouse in monthly installments. When a parent misses his or her payments, the child can suffer. If you are a parent with a child support plan in place and your former spouse has developed a habit of missing his or her payments, speak with an experienced family lawyer. You and your child do not deserve to miss out on this money and by failing to make his or her payments, your former spouse is in contempt of court. Work with an experienced Illinois family lawyer to get your child the money he or she needs.

Repercussions for Failing to Pay Child Support

A parent who fails to make his or her child support payments can face any of the following repercussions:

  • Wage and bank account garnishment;
  • Seizure of his or her tax refund or state lottery winnings;
  • Seizure of his or her assets to extract unpaid money;
  • Suspension of his or her driver’s license;
  • Suspension of his or her professional licenses;
  • Denial of his or her passport application;
  • A criminal investigation, which could cause him or her to face penalties that include fines and jail time; and
  • A private collection agency may be employed to collect the money owed.

How Child Support is Determined in Illinois

In Illinois, child support is determined by a formula that determines an appropriate percentage of the paying parent’s net income to be used to pay child support. Although this formula is appropriate in most cases, it is not appropriate in all cases. When it is deemed to be inappropriate for a particular family, the court may consider the following factors to develop a child support amount that will adequately provide for the child:

  • The child’s financial resources and personal needs. By “financial resources,” the law refers to any savings the child has or, if the child is an adolescent, the child’s income from his or her own job;
  • Both parents’ financial resources and personal needs;
  • The child’s academic, emotional, physical, and medical needs; and
  • The standard of living the child would have had if his or her parents had not divorced.

What you Can Do if you Do Not Receive the Child Support you are Required to Receive

The first thing to do after a missed child support payment is to speak with your former spouse. He or she might be facing a short-term financial difficulty. In a situation like this, be flexible. See if your former spouse can make up for the missed payment next month or if he or she can make a partial payment now, then larger payments for the next few months until he or she is caught up.

If your former spouse’s failure to make his or her payments becomes a chronic issue, it might be time to speak with your lawyer about taking action to pursue the payment. Your lawyer can work with the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) to have action taken to extract the money from your former spouse. Your former spouse may face any or all of the repercussions discussed above if the DCSS becomes involved with your case. You may be required to submit proof of his or her delinquency with your lawyer’s inquiry to the DCSS, which your lawyer can help you obtain and use.

Work with an Experienced Chicago Family Law Firm

If you are a parent considering divorce, currently working through a divorce, or a parent who has child support or parenting time agreement in place, work with an experienced DuPage County family lawyer to handle the legal issues that arise. Contact