Child support is an often divisive aspect of the divorce process. While the State of Illinois (and most, if not all, other jurisdictions) take a dim view of those who shirk their support responsibilities, it also takes a dim view of those who knowingly shirk their responsibilities in response to court orders; to wit, the employers of delinquent ex-spouses. If an ex-spouse is delinquent in child support payments, the party receiving the payments can move to obtain an order forcing the paying ex-spouse’s employer to garnish wages to pay the support obligation. The garnished money never goes into the hands of the ex-spouse; it is taken by the employer and given directly to the party receiving the payment. Further, if an employer knowingly disobeys a garnishment order, they are subject to a fine of $100 a day.
The children of divorce should not be made to suffer because of the supporting ex-spouse’s inability or unwillingness to pay their obligation, and because of this, the employer is instead punished for contributing to the suffering of the children in question. However, if the ex-spouse’s employer receives a notice that lacks certain vital information, should the employer be made to suffer for the failure of the party receiving support? Or their attorney? The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously says no.
In Schultz v. Performance Lighting Inc., the Illinois Supreme Court found that a notice of garnishment issued to the supporting ex-spouse’s employer was not “regular on its face,” as is required under the Illinois Income Withholding for Support Act. Within the act, a garnishment notice must be “in the standard format prescribed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services…” Of the many things that the notice from HHS requires is the ex-spouse’s social security number. Because the garnishment notice served on the employer in this case lacked any social security number, the notice was not “regular on its face,” and thus unenforceable.
Illinois Divorce and Child Support Attorneys
This ruling takes the pressure off of employers and makes their jobs easier. The duty of accurately filing a notice is now firmly where it belongs: with the attorney of the supported ex-spouse. An experienced family law attorney in Chicago can ensure that you receive the child support and spousal maintenance that the courts have ordered. If circumstances change, your support and maintenance can be changed to better reflect your needs as you proceed with your life. If you are contemplating divorce, contact an Illinois family lawyer today.