The State of Illinois has enacted laws to protect children. These include child support laws designed to ensure that children are supported by both parents.
Who Needs to Pay Child Support?
Illinois law provides minimum percentages of net income that a non-custodial parent is required to pay. The percentage increases with the number of children. For example, a non-custodial parent must pay 20% of his or her net income towards the support of one child. If the there are four children, the non-custodial parent must pay a minimum of 40% of his or her net income towards support. The percentage will continue to rise along with the number of children.
A court will apply these statutory minimums unless certain conditions exist. A court may increase or decrease the percentage based on:
- The financial resources and needs of the child and the custodial parent;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents remained together;
- The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child; and
- The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.
How Do You Petition for Child Support?
In Illinois, a parent can file for child support through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). The DCSS helps custodial parents:
- Locate the parent who does not live with the child;
- Establish paternity (determine who the child's father is);
- Get an order for child support (this can include an order for health insurance);
- Collect payments on an established child support order;
- Make modifications to established child support orders; and
- Collect past-due child support.
What If You Don't Pay Child Support?
Illinois has chosen to enact the Non-Support Punishment Act which allows for severe consequences against those who fail to pay child support. Under the Non-Support Punishment Act a parent who fails to pay child support can be subject to:
- Fines (these fines increase depending on the amount owed and the time that has passed since the payment was due);
- Wage garnishment;
- Imprisonment (courts generally choose not to imprison non-paying parents because imprisonment ends the ability of that parent to begin payments again, but it is an option an certain circumstances).
What Recourse Can the Other Parent Have if You Don't Pay for Support?
Contacting your local child support lawyer is a great first step in learning what rights and options you have under Illinois’ child support laws. An experienced lawyer can help you know if you can file a suit in civil court or use other private methods to secure much needed child support.
How Can You Stop Paying Child Support?
Until a child becomes an adult there are very few ways in which a parent who pays child support will no longer be obligated to do so. An example of a way in which you may no longer have to pay child support is if you can demonstrate that the child is not yours. Contact your local child support lawyer if you believe that you should no longer be paying child support. There are very specific steps that must be taken to reduce or end your child support requirements. If you bypass these steps and simply stop sending child support, you may face serious penalties and fines.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
If you need help petitioning or adjusting child support, then contact your local Illinois family law lawyer today to discuss your rights and options under Illinois law.