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The Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support

The Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support

In Illinois, court ordered child support payments are mandatory. If a parent fails to make payments, state and/or federal authorities may step in to impose various penalties that range from fines to jail time.

Illinois Child Support Payments

According to Illinois laws, court-ordered child support must be paid, regardless of other obligations. If a parent falls behind or stops making payments without working out alternative arrangements through an Illinois family law attorney, the state will step in to collect. Child support orders are usually enforced through state courts, but in certain circumstances can be enforced by federal law. If a parent disappears, federal authorities can locate the person through the Federal Parent Locator Service, an entity used to find deadbeat parents. Under the Uniform Federal Family Support Act, a support order can be enforced if the non-custodial parent moves out of Illinois. A non-custodial parent who is having problems making support payments can modify the existing support order with an Illinois family law attorney who can explain in court why there’s difficulty making payments.

Enforcing Penalties for Non-Payment

In Illinois, there are various penalties for failing to pay child support. Common penalties include:

  • Garnishing wages
  • Garnishing a bank account
  • Placing a lien on property
  • Withholding state and federal tax refunds
  • Suspending or revoking a driver’s license
  • Denying a U.S. passport

Criminal punishment is usually reserved for parents who willfully stop paying child support for more than six months or have back payments, referred to as arrearages, over $5,000. Fines and jail time can increase with the severity of non-payment. A non-custodial parent failing to pay for six months or with arrearages over $5,000 may be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor. A parent failing to pay with $20,000 in arrearages can be charged with a Class 4 felony and imprisoned for one to three years.

The responsibility of enforcing child support payments is carried out by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). Once a child support order is finalized, it is recorded in the DCSS database and payments are regularly monitored. If DCSS is notified by the custodial parent that the non-custodial parent is not making court-ordered child support payments, DCSS will start collection activities against the non-paying parent. If the custodial parent is receiving public assistance through the state, the system automatically picks up non-payments.

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