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Child Support Enforcement in Illinois

If you are not being paid your court-ordered child support, you can take the other party to court to enforce the order. To make sure they pay, the court will use a variety of child support enforcement techniques including:

  • Holding them in contempt
  • Intercepting federal and state taxes
  • Revoking driving privileges
  • Wage garnishments
  • Seizing assets
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Community service
Many people can survive without child support, but you shouldn’t have to. Child support is meant to make sure that your child grows up in a safe and secure environment. If you aren’t getting the child support you are supposed to, there are things the court can do to make them pay.

How to Get Unpaid Child Support

Under Illinois law, you can take a person to court for child support enforcement if:

  • They purposefully refuse to pay to support their child or children without a lawful excuse;
  • They fail to pay court ordered child support for more than 6 months or owe more than $5,000; or
    \They leave the state with the intent to avoid paying child support.

If one of these things is true, you can fill out the necessary forms then file them with the court. For many child support actions, the Illinois’s Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) can give you legal help[1]. However, DCSS cannot provide legal advice, modify an order, or get an order for college expenses. If you’re ready to have your own personal lawyer, call Sterling Lawyers, LLC.

If you do pursue someone for the child support you are owed, there are certain actions the court can take.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!

Illinois Child Support Enforcement Law

Child support can be enforced either by the court or by administrative action. Administrative action means it goes through the Department of Child Support Services rather than the court.

Either way, the laws set out specific ways child support can be enforced. Child support can be enforced by:

  • Including the debt on the payer’s credit report;
  • Collecting the debt through private collection agencies;
  • Placing a lien against any real estate or personal property;
  • Placing a lien on an account in a financial institution;
  • Suspending or revoking their Illinois professional license, occupational certificate, or hunting or fishing license;
  • Suspending or revoking their Illinois driver’s license;
  • Denying or suspending the parent’s U.S. passport;
  • Requiring them to post a bond, security, or other guarantee of payment when they are not subject to income withholding;
  • Intercepting state and federal tax refund payments;
  • Requesting state or federal criminal prosecution; or
  • Listing their name and photograph on the Department of Health and Family Services’ Delinquent Parents website.

Which method is used to enforce child support depends on the situation. They usually start with one or a few things and continue if necessary. They often start with wage garnishment and only use the more serious methods like criminal prosecution as a last resort.

Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment is where the DCSS contacts the employer of the person paying child support. They work with the employer, so the money comes right out of the person's paycheck.

The employer is required by law to cooperate with Illinois Child Support Services. This makes sure the employer can’t help them evade paying child support. If the employer is not deducting the child support payments, they will have to pay fines.

License Suspension

Because the government issues licenses, they can suspend or revoke them too. Anyone who has missed support payments for 90 days or more can face losing their license. This is most commonly seen with driver’s licenses but be for licenses needed to practice specific professions in Illinois.

Before taking their license, they receive a warning giving them 60 days to pay off their arrears. If they don’t pay it before the 60 days is up, their license can be suspended until they do pay it.

Some worry this method is counterproductive if it stops them from working and earning an income. To help this, the courts can do things like give limited driving permits for things like driving to work or for medical reasons. Also, they do have the 60 days, so hopefully the prospect of losing their license is enough.

Criminal Conviction

In extreme cases, the person not paying their child support can face more serious charges. They can receive a class four felony, serve jail time for up to six months, or receive fines of up to $25,000. This only happens when they do something like evading child support by leaving the state or owing more than $10,000.

Using Financial Partnerships

If the person who owes child support has their finances connected to another person or to a business, the courts can pursue them as another option. The court can require assets be used to pay off the unpaid child support. This is especially useful when the delinquent person tries to hide their money in a business or with another person.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.


Should I Hire an Attorney to Enforce a Child Support Order in Illinois?

An attorney is often not required to enforce a child support order. Instead, you can get help from Illinois Child Support Services (link to their website in the reference section). Illinois helps people pursue unpaid child support because it helps to keep them from needing government assistance. However, if you want support or legal advice from an attorney dedicated to you, you can have your own attorney.

What Happens if You Are Still Owed Child Support After the Kids Turn 18?

Even if a child support order ends, the money they owe does not go away. When a child turns 18 or graduates high school, the child support order usually ends. But they still have to pay the money they owe. The other parent is still down that money because they had to use their own money to cover what wasn’t paid.

Frequently Asked Questions

​​What are the penalties for not paying child support in Illinois?

Penalties range from garnishing wages to suspending licenses to serving jail time. The severity of the penalty depends on how long support has gone unpaid and how much is owed. The penalties generally start off smaller and get more serious as time goes.

Does my ex have to pay child support?

If there is already a child support order, your ex has to pay. If there isn’t an order, child support is not required in every situation, so your ex might not have to pay child support. To know for sure, look at the child support factors on our child support calculator’s page.

How do you enforce a support order?

The court or Child Support Services enforces child support through a variety of punishments. They can do this by ordering the other party to pay or garnishing their wages where they take it right from their paycheck. The court can also do things like suspend their license.

How do you get child support enforced in Illinois?

To get child support enforced in Illinois, file the correct paperwork with the clerk of courts. It is usually easy to prove that they haven’t been paying. You can also get help from Child Support Services.

What happens if the father doesn't pay child support?

If the other party doesn’t pay child support like they are supposed to, then they owe the money they missed. This money owed is called arrears. If they don’t pay, they can have their wages garnished, license suspended, and travel limited.

How much back child support is a felony in Illinois?

To get a felony for not paying child support in Illinois, there needs to be more than $10,000 owed. It is a final punishment after previous methods have not worked. It can also happen for other reasons like if a person leaves the state to avoid paying child support.

Can I take my ex to court for unpaid child support?

Yes, you can take your ex to court to make them pay the unpaid child support. The court will use various methods to enforce the order to make sure they pay what they owe.

How far back can child support be claimed?

You can claim any child support that is still owed. But, if you mean support for before the order was established, it’s usually a year or two before the case.

Reference: 1. Child Support Services Program. Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

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