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DuPage County child support attorneyMany parents do not realize the amount of money it actually takes to raise a child. When child support payments become a part of your monthly expenses, you may find yourself in a financial predicament. Child support is designed to help a child with unmarried or divorced unmarried parents to enjoy the same quality of life that he or she would have with married parents. In Illinois, child support amounts are determined by analyzing each parent’s income, employment, health, and other factors. If you cannot afford your court-ordered child support, read on to learn about what your next steps should be.

Never Stop Child Support Payments Without Notification

Illinois takes child support nonpayment very seriously. If you cannot afford your child support, never simply stop payments. Missing payments or paying only partial amounts can result in significant negative consequences. Parents who fail to pay their support payments in Illinois can have their wages or bank accounts garnished, tax returns intercepted, a lien placed against their property, and their driver’s license suspended or revoked. In severe cases of child support nonpayment, parents can face passport denial and even criminal prosecution. Parents who own $5000 or more in past-due support can also have their name and photograph posted on the “Illinois Deadbeat Parent” website.

File a Request for a Child Support Modification

If you are a parent who cannot afford your current support obligation, your first step should be to notify the person who receives your support. Next, file a “Petition to Modify Support,” with the county court. Modifications to child support obligations are only granted if there is a good reason for the court to change the order.

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DuPage County child support enforcement lawyersIf your child’s other parent has been convicted of a crime and is in jail or prison, you may have dozens of concerns, including worries regarding child support. When an individual is incarcerated, their financial obligations are usually still considered valid. This includes child support payments. Read on to learn about how incarceration can affect child support payments as well as what to do if you are not receiving court-ordered child support.

Parents in Jail Are Still Responsible for Child Support

When a judge orders a parent to pay their child’s other parent child support, that requirement is generally intended to last until the child is an adult. A child’s financial needs do not stop just because a parent is incarcerated. If your child’s other parent in in jail, he or she is still responsible for his or her court-ordered child support payments. However, the parent may be able to petition the court for a temporary modification of their child support obligation.

Courts only grant a child support modification if the parent can prove that he or she has had a major change in his or her financial circumstances. Some incarcerated parents are able to participate in a work release program which provides them with the funds needed to pay child support, but others will have no income. In situations in which an incarcerated parent cannot pay child support, the total amount of past due support payments will be due at the time of their release.

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DuPage County child support attorneyChild support payments can be a great way for unmarried or divorced parents to share the costs of raising a child. Child support in Illinois is calculated by the courts using the “income shares” model. This means that both parents’ income, property, and financial circumstances are taken into account in order to arrive at a child support amount which is fair and reasonable for both parties. Of course, life can sometimes be less than predictable, and situations can arise when a parent needs to change the amount of child support he or she is paying or receiving. If you are struggling to pay your court-ordered child support in Illinois, you may be able to reduce your payment by requesting a child support order modification.

When Can Child Support Be Modified?

There are only certain circumstances which warrant a child support modification. One way to change your child support payment amount is through a mutual agreement with your child’s other parent. If you and the other parent are able to agree on a new payment amount, you can draft your own written agreement, sign it, and submit it to the court for approval. If the court approves the new child support arrangement, the terms in your signed agreement are legally binding. If your child’s other parent does not agree to a modification, you will need to petition the court for a child support modification. The court will only grant a modification if there is a substantial circumstantial change. Circumstances that may lead to a modification request being approved include but are not limited to:

  • An increase or decrease in either parent’s financial stability;
  • The children’s needs have significantly changed;
  • You have experienced a significant increase in cost of living;
  • A parent has remarried;
  • There is a change in custody or parenting time; and
  • The child becoming emancipated.

Never Simply Stop Child Support Payments

If you are seeking a modification because you cannot afford your current child support payment amount, it is critical that you notify the court as well as your child’s other parent. Simply stopping payment can result in serious consequences. You could have your paychecks or bank account garnished, a lien placed on your property, or even be charged with a criminal offense. It is possible for a parent to be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor for not paying child support for six months or owing over $5,000 in back payments. If the parent owes more than $20,000 in child support, they could face a Class 4 felony and be incarcerated for one to three years.

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Naperville child support lawyerThe purpose of child support is to help a child of unmarried or divorced parents enjoy the same quality of life as they would if their parents were together. If a noncustodial parent does not pay his or her court-ordered child support, the custodial parent can seek help from Illinois' Division of Child Support Services.

Not paying child support can result in wage garnishment, revocation of licenses, property liens, interception of tax refunds, and, in the most severe cases, criminal prosecution. If you are the primary caregiver to a child and the child’s other parent is not paying child support, read on to learn about your options under Illinois law.

Paternity Must Be Established Before Child Support Can Be Collected

Because there is seldom any question as to a child’s biological mother, most parentage issues stem from the father not establishing paternity. In Illinois, there are several ways that a father can establish paternity and become the child’s legal parent, including:

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DuPage County child support lawyersWhen a couple with children either is not married when they have the child or later gets divorced, the parent with less parental responsibility is often required to pay child support. The purpose of child support payments are to help the custodial parent, the one with a greater share of parenting time and responsibility, cover the costs associated with raising the child. The ultimate goal of support payments is to help the child enjoy the same quality of life as he or she would have enjoyed if his or her parents were together. But, what happens when a parent does not pay his or her court-order child support?

Deadbeat Parents and Child Support Nonpayment

Depending on the circumstances, nonpayment of child support can be a serious violation of a court order. Parents who simply choose not to pay their court-ordered support can be held in contempt of the court. These so-called “deadbeat” parents are regarded differently under the law than those parents who make an attempt to comply with the law but cannot afford their support payments. This is why it is imperative that parents who cannot afford their child support payments notify the court of this problem immediately.

What to Do If You Know You Cannot Make Your Child Support Payment

Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act outlines the rules for child support nonpayment. According to the law, “Support may be modified as to installments accruing subsequent to due notice by the moving party of the filing of the motion for modification.” This means that parents can petition the court to modify their child support obligation by filing a “Petition to Modify Support.” In addition to notifying the court, parents who cannot make their support payment must also notify the other parent or recipient of support.

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