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Child Support Collections and Disability

Child Support Collections and Disability

By: M. Scott Gordon

If your child has a disability, can this impact child support collections in Chicago? And how do collections work after the disabled child becomes a legal adult? On a related note, can a payee spouse’s disability impact child support obligations and collections mechanisms for Illinois families? These are important questions to ask, and it is always a good idea to discuss child support obligations and collections—when a payee parent fails to make payments—with an experienced Chicago child support collections lawyer.

To give you a sense of how Illinois handles issues of disability and child support collections, however, we would like to explore the questions presented above in greater detail.

Support for Children with Disabilities

If your child has a disability, we know that you have many questions about how child support obligations work. For instance, does the other parent have the same support obligations as parents in situations where the child does not have a disability? In the event that the supporting parent does not abide by child support obligations laid out by the court, does the child support collections process look the same as in cases without a disability issue? In short, under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/505(a)), the law does not treat child support for a minor child with disabilities any differently than it does child support for a minor child without disabilities when it comes to collections. Indeed, supporting parents have the same obligations, and if the parent fails to pay child support, the custodial parent can begin child support collections proceedings.

Yet, Illinois law does have some important particularities that can impact child support collections in cases involving adult children with disabilities. Specifically, under 750 ILCS 5/513.5, a supporting parent can be required to continue making child support payments once the child has reached the age of majority when that child is mentally or physically disabled (which the law defines as “a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity”), and when the child is not emancipated. When a supporting parent fails to continue making support payments, the custodial parent should speak with a lawyer about child support collections possibilities.

Collections Proceedings When the Supporting Parent is Disabled

What happens in child support situations where the supporting parent becomes disabled and cannot make regular child support payments? Can the supporting parent become targeted in child support collections actions? Generally speaking, parents who received Social Security disability benefits can be eligible for a Social Security dependent disability allowance. This benefit can be used to provide child support for the following:

  • Children under the age of 18; or
  • Children between the ages of 18 and 19 who are full-time students; or
  • Children aged 18 and older who have a disability that was documented before the child turned 22.

However, there are limits to these benefits, and they may not equal the amount provided for by the child support order. In such cases, the supporting spouse is not required to make up the additional amount that is not covered by the Social Security benefit. In other words, child support collections cannot occur when a parent is disabled and, as a result, cannot provide the statutory child support amount.

However, when a parent owes back child support prior to becoming disabled, the disability does not prevent a custodial parent from initiating a child support collections action to obtain back-owed child support. The Illinois case of Pinkston v. Pinkston (2001) made clear that child support obligations that accrued prior to a disability still are owed after the parent becomes disabled.

Contact a Chicago Child Support Collections Lawyer

If you have questions about obtaining back child support or concerns about child support collections, an experienced Chicago child support collections attorney can assist you. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates today.