Parents understand the need to pay child support. It is their way of helping support their son or daughter to ensure their needs are met. But sometimes life gets in the way of paying child support. People lose their jobs, they have unexpected medical expenses or other surprise bills, or suffer from some other tragedy that may prevent them from making child support payments on time.
The courts (and the other parent) understand that circumstances can change, and that sometimes child support obligations need to change as well. However, you cannot simply stop paying support because you can no longer afford to pay. To do so could result in a wide range of consequences, some of which could significantly impact your life. Understand these consequences, and how you can avoid them with the help of a skilled legal attorney.
Accumulation and Interest
Your missed payments add up – they are not forgiven. Let us say you have been ordered to pay $300 per month. If you skip three months, then you are now $900 in arrears on top of the next $300, and this will continue to accrue in the future. In addition, the state can charge you interest on the amount you are behind. Illinois charges nine percent per year on any child support that remains unpaid 30 days after it was due.
Returning to Court
In most situations, if you are behind on child support, the other parent will take you back to court. If your wages are not already garnished, the other parent may ask the court to order this so that the parent receives money whenever you are paid. This is not only an avoidable hassle, it can lead to further action if you continue to fall behind on your payments.
Believe it or not, if you are behind on your payments by at least three months, you can have your driver’s license suspended. The Family Financial Responsibility Act allows a judge to suspend your license as a punishment for contempt of court or the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to request the Secretary of State suspend your license.
Once you receive notice that your license will be suspended in the next 60 days, you have that period of time to pay your child support, show that you have complied with the court-ordered support, and avoid the suspension. If you cannot pay, your license is suspended until you become compliant. However, you may get a special permit to drive to work.
The Non-Support Punishment Act makes not paying child support a criminal offense, not just a civil matter. As a result, you can be charged with contempt of court and, if convicted, you could spend time in jail. This is why it is so critical that you immediately contact an attorney if you are struggling to make your court ordered payments or fall behind.
If you know you can no longer pay your court ordered child support, speak with a family law attorney about asking the court to modify the order. Courts may change child support obligations if a parent can show a significant change in circumstances, such as losing your job.
Contact a Naperville Family Law Attorney
Do not assume you will be okay if you miss a few child support payments. There can be serious consequences if you fall behind on your obligations, even by just a few months. Instead, if you are having trouble meeting your obligation, reach out to the passionate DuPage County family law attorneys at our office right away. We will work with you to help determine the most appropriate course of action for your child support case. Call us at 630-665-7676 to schedule your free initial consultation today.