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Cook County State’s Attorney on Costs of Child Support Collections

Cook County State’s Attorney on Costs of Child Support Collections

By: M. Scott Gordon

Who covers the costs associated with child support collections? According to a recent article from the Cook County Record, the Cook County State’s Attorney is currently working with advocates in the Chicago area for parents who are currently owed child support. Specifically, Alvarez has “asked the federal courts to step in to force the state of Illinois to pay up what it owes to cover the costs of enforcing the collection of child support.” Many people contend that Cook County has had to pay millions of dollars due to the state of Illinois’s failure to fund the child support collections program, and it is harming payee parents and their children.

What else do you need to know about the recent push by Cook County to force the state of Illinois to fund the child support collections program? And how might parents who are owed child support be impacted by the outcome?

Background to the Recent Lawsuit in Federal Court

As the article explains, the background to begins back in 1992. At that point, parents in Cook County filed a lawsuit to get child support enforcement services, which was something required by federal law. The court ultimately entered a consent decree in 2000, which was intended to resolve the lawsuit from eight years prior. However, according to the recent lawsuit, “the state stopped funding the county’s $18 million child support enforcement program when the new fiscal year began in July 2015.” Since then, Illinois has been operating without a budget due to the stalemate between Governor Bruce Rauner and members of the Illinois General Assembly.

Making the Consent Decree Work for Parents and Children 

To be clear, the consent decree we mentioned previously requires the state of Illinois to fund the child support enforcement program. However, the lawsuit contends that the state has not submitted expenditure reports for federal reimbursement from Cook County, which means the state is not actually supporting the child support enforcement program. Just prior to the filing (March 1) the state owed more than $9 million to Cook County for reimbursements. In short, the state previously delegated some enforcement duties to the county, with the understanding that it would be reimbursed from the state budget.

Cook County has “continued to fund the Child Support Program, notwithstanding the failure of the State to reimburse the County for such expenses.” However, this method for keeping the enforcement program running is not financially feasible for Cook County. Indeed, as the article underscores, “the unanticipated expense has strained county budgets, which cannot sustain any more cutbacks to make up the difference.”

If the state of Illinois does not provide funding to the county, the child support enforcement program will, at the very least, have to eliminate some of its services. At worst, the program will not run at all. The motion makes clear that the stakes are very high, given that we are dealing with the well-being of children in the Chicago area.

Contact a Chicago Child Support Collections Lawyer

If you have questions about child support collections, an experienced Chicago family lawyer can assist you. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates to learn more about our services.