It is decidedly common for a parent to be dissatisfied about the amount of child support that a court has ordered him or her to pay. However, this does not excuse the parent from paying it, even if a modification is pending. If you are owed back child support by your child’s other parent, this is referred to as an arrearage, and it must be paid, regardless of what other obligations your ex-spouse may have. In Illinois, there are various ways to collect on this particular obligation.
Penalties for Non-Payment
If you owe child support and fall behind in payments without working out an arrangement with the recipient parent—or the court—the state of Illinois will be informed. Depending on your location and the amount owed, federal authorities may also be notified. If you attempt to disappear to avoid obligations, there are entities such as the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) that exist to track down deadbeat parents, and you may be penalized more for attempting to shirk your commitments. In extreme cases, you may be jailed under the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act.
Once you are located, there are multiple ways in which the state or federal government may obtain the amount owed, along with any assessed penalties. Such methods include withholding your tax refund to put toward the arrearage or garnishing your wages. In Illinois, a program called the Family Financial Responsibility Act (known colloquially as the “Deadbeats Don’t Drive” program) also has the power to suspend or revoke your driver’s license until arrearages are paid. It is important to remember that these efforts are intended to collect the back child support owed, while any penalties assessed on top of that may have to be paid in a different manner.
When Support Ends
One common situation that may lead to misunderstandings between ex-spouses is the question of when support is actually supposed to end, and what happens to any arrearages owed at that point. Child support obligations end when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school whichever occurs later (but no later than age 19). Arrearages, however, do not disappear immediately upon termination of the support obligation, and any back payments due will still be owed. In many states, there is a statute of limitations to address how long a parent has to collect on arrearages, but this is not the case in Illinois. The law states explicitly that “child support judgments … may be enforced at any time.”
To address the matter proactively, the best thing to do is contact the relevant state authorities and double-check the amount of the arrearage. Once the amount has been established as correct, you may be able to work out a plan of payment with either the other parent or the family court. However, it is important to remember that you begin to pay the arrearage dating furthest back, not the most recent, so the interest accrued may make the total amount due quite expensive.
Seek Experienced Legal Assistance
Child support is an obligation owed to your child, not to your ex-partner. As such, the state places a high value on ensuring it is collected. If you have child support arrearages and need help, contacting a knowledgeable attorney a good place to start. The dedicated Kane County child support lawyers at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. are happy to help answer your questions and to guide you forward. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation today.