Enforcement of Child Support
Following a divorce, both parents have an obligation to support the children involved. If one parent has sole custody or in most cases, residential custody, the law assumes that the residential parent is contributing to the children's needs, and directs the other parent to pay a percentage of his/her income to the custodial parent. For example, a parent may be required to pay 20% of net income for one child, 25% for two, etc… Any deviations from these percentages are the exception.
The system is in place to ensure that children do not suffer as a result of the divorce. However, many children are forced to live in poverty as a result of unpaid child support. In Illinois there are at least 490,000 parents owing more than one billion dollars in child support payments.
The timely child support payment may be enforced by law in several ways. The court may withhold money from a parent’s paycheck, either at the time of a child support order or if the parent falls behind in payments. In order to do this, the custodial parent must obtain a court order.
Employers are legally obligated to withhold a child support payment; those who do not are subject to legal penalties.
Illinois law also allows the court to suspend “deadbeat” parents' driver's licenses. This law applies to parents who are 90 days behind in court-ordered child support.
A custodial parent not receiving court ordered child support payments, or receiving late payments, may contact the Illinois Department of Human Services, which offers free legal representation to enforce child support orders. Some private attorneys also provide representation to compel support payments.
Note: This information was prepared as a public service by the Illinois State Bar Association. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication. For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, visit our lawyer referral page.
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