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Child Support Collections and the Legal Consequences of Failing to Pay

Child Support Collections and the Legal Consequences of Failing to Pay

By: M. Scott Gordon

Continued Problems with County Child Support Collections Funding in Illinois

Child support collections are currently a hot topic in the Chicago area and, indeed, throughout the state of Illinois. For example, a recent report from WGN TV News emphasized that funding for child support collections is currently in jeopardy throughout many Illinois counties because of a budget stalemate. As that report explains, “single parents may soon find it harder to collect child support because local officials who work on the cases have run out of money.” In the short term, counties like Cook County and Kane County have been working to pay for child support collections services through local budgets, but without attention soon from the state, these individual counties will not be able to keep up with the necessary costs.

In Cook County, the State’s Attorney’s office has already filed a lawsuit against the state of Illinois for its failure to reimburse county agencies for child support collections costs. However, no money will be reimbursed to Cook County or any other region of Illinois until a state budget is passed. If single parents who rely on child support payments to raise their children will not be able to secure the help of a county child support collections office, what remedies will they have available to them? In short, they may have to rely on the payor parent’s concerns about the ramifications of failure to make support payments.

Repercussions for Failure to Make Timely Child Support Payments

If child support collections offices will not be tracking down negligent parents, what will ensure that payor parents keep up with child support payments? In Illinois, the Non-Support Punishment Act defines the penalties for failure to make support payments, including child support payments and spousal maintenance payments.

Under the law, a parent or former spouse can be guilty of failure of support in several different circumstances, including when she or he “without lawful excuse, deserts or willfully refuses to provide for the support or maintenance of his or her child or children in need of support or maintenance and the person has the ability to provide support.” The law does have a presumption of the payor parent’s ability to provide support. As such, the inability to pay can mean that the payor parent may not actually commit the offense of failure to support.

If the parent does have the ability to make child support payments and does not, what are the legal consequences? The statute explains that consequences can include but are not limited to:

  • Fine that can total anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 depending on the length of time for which the support obligation has remained unpaid and the total amount of the support obligation due;
  • Imprisonment; and
  • Restitution.

Contact a Child Support Collections Attorney in Chicago

Failure to pay child support is a serious offense, especially given that many children in the Chicago area rely on these payments in order to live healthy lives. Although Illinois counties may no longer be able to fund child support collections services, an experienced child support collections attorney in Chicago might be able to help. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates today for more information about how we can assist with your child support collections claim.