Enforce Court Ordered Child Support

Hold a spouse in contempt of court if child support isn't paid.

Rest assured, if the other parent isn't paying their child support, the law is very clear and aggressively enforced to make your child is provided for. Child support is not a handshake agreement, it's a court order and failure to pay it will put you in contempt of court, a very serious offense.

If a parent repeatedly fails to pay the child support they owe, they would likely be served and ordered to appear in court for a child support hearing. Failure to show up to court will lead to a warrant for their arrest and possible jail time. In addition to criminal prosecution, a parent with over three months or $10,000 of unpaid support might find their picture posted up online or in their local newspaper.

If you have a significant and unforeseen change in circumstance, there are ways to modify an existing order, but there's never an excuse to stop paying altogether.

Parents should do everything in their power to pay what they owe, or at a minimum get in touch with the courts and the other parent to explain why they've fallen behind. But make no mistake, a lack of payment with no reason is likely to end in arrest, not a slap on the wrist.

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Methods of Enforcement

When a parent actively avoids paying their child support, there are a few tools at the court's disposal:

  • Wage Garnishments
    • The most common form of collecting money that's owed is in the form of wage garnishment. This means that the unpaid child support would start being automatically deducted out of the non-paying parent's paycheck. The court will determine what percentage of wages can be garnished based upon the specific amount owed.
  • Intercepting Federal & State Tax Refunds
    • Under section 160.70 under Illinois Administrative Code states that the Department of Healthcare and Family Services can intercept tax returns and other payments from government agencies to collect past due child support. So if a spouse falls behind on their child support and has a tax refund heading their way, that money can be intercepted to pay back what's owed.
  • Liens Against Property and Assets
    • The Department also has the authority to secure liens against real estate and other personal assets belonging to the non-paying parent when the amount of past-due support exceeds $3,500. For example, if a spouse who's way behind on their child support attempts to sell their house, a lien would ensure they couldn't sell the property until the lien was paid off.
  • Suspend or Restrict Licenses
    • State law also allows for the Department to revoke and suspend any state-issued license belong to someone who's more than 90 days delinquent on their support payments. Most commonly this would mean a driver's license, but it can also apply to professional and recreational licenses as well.

References: Online Child Support Database, Statute Section 160.70

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