In Focus: How to Enforce a Child Support Order

In Focus: How to Enforce a Child Support Order
  • Feb 1 2018

In an Illinois divorce, one of the key issues that must be resolved is child support. Although both parents have an obligation to provide for the financial well-being of their children, one parent is typically required to pay child support, based on the custody arrangements. But what happens when a parent fails to fulfill his or her obligations? In this situation, a skilled divorce attorney can take legal action to enforce the child support order.

An Overview of Child Support

In the past, the courts considered a number of factors in making child support determinations. Among these were the child’s standard of living while the parents were married and the amount of each parent’s gross monthly income. The laws regarding child support in Illinois were revamped in July 2017, however.

Now, child support is calculated based on parenting time, as well as the joint income of each parent. Generally, there are three different scenarios for determining child support all of which rely on an income shares table. In any event, a child support order still requires the paying parent to make payments on a monthly basis until the child reaches adulthood.

Enforcing Child Support

Through the years, we have seen how paying parents violate child support payments. In some cases, they may consistently make payments late. On the other hand, they may not pay the full amount, or not make any payments at all. When a parent fails to make child support payments without a valid reason, it may be necessary to go to court to enforce the child support order.

The process starts by filing a legal document with the court known as a Rule to Show Cause. The presiding judge will schedule a hearing, unless discovery is needed. The non-paying parent must appear and explain why he or she has not made the payments. In some cases there may be legitimate reasons. These include, a job loss, a sudden illness, or another emergency.

If the child support order is violated without cause, however, the court may enter an order finding the non-paying party in contempt.  Although this could mean jail time for repeat offenders, the courts are typically reluctant to do this because the nonpaying spouse will not be able to earn the income necessary to make the payments.

The Takeaway

Although a parent may have a valid reason for missing or not making child support payments, those who fail to provide for their children financially must be held responsible. If you need assistance enforcing a child support order, don’t go it alone — call an experienced divorce attorney.

Posted in: Child Support