Child Support Collections

Chicago Area Attorneys Helping You Pursue Child Support Collections

Explaining Child Support Enforcement in the Chicago Area

What is the best way to collect or pay child support? Why is there so often confusion regarding what has been paid on old support orders? Child support enforcement should be a simple process, yet as many people involved (either as parents, attorneys or judges) know, the “process” can be frustrating, confusing and downright nerve-wracking. A recent article in a Chicago legal newspaper had a headline stating that even Cook County child support attorneys are “baffled” by the way the collections process works!

Most custodial parents want only to receive the correct amount of child support, and most non-custodial parents want to pay child support as long as it is the correct amount, and someone is correctly recording the amounts paid. While Chicago divorce mediation for the often contentious issue of child support has become an increasingly popular option for sorting out disagreements between former spouses, this does not always solve the problem.

There has been a huge amount of press in the past few years about collecting child support, most of it negative. Parents owed support and seeking child support enforcement and many parents who pay are often trapped between competing court and administrative orders, with the added headache of seized tax refunds where often no arrearage is owed.

A few years ago, major Illinois employers had the child support enforcement law changed so that orders issued now by any Illinois court must state that the support is to be paid either by the employer directly through the state distribution unit (SDU) or that the parent is to make payments privately to the other parent. For parents, it is important to know how your support is paid. Your Chicago Child Support Lawyers can help you get a better grasp of this complicated issue.

Direct payments

Do you receive or make payments directly to or from the other parent? If so, ask yourself if it might be better for the support to be taken out of the parent’s paycheck by his or her employer and sent through the SDU. Sometimes, parents believe (or are convinced by the other party) that it is more efficient to have the support paid directly. The problem is that this can produce unneeded problems for either parent. For someone receiving the payment, child support can become a battle of nerves with threats to not pay or payments delayed out of spite or anger. For those paying support, there is no clear record of payments made. Although canceled bank checks are proof of payment, these can become lost. In addition, the state may be involved in your case without you realizing it, and if payments are made directly between the parties, the state mistakenly can pursue the child support enforcement action of reporting you to the tax authorities as being delinquent. This can result in seized tax returns (which are very difficult to recover) and a mark on your credit report.

Payments through the SDU

Much of the problem (and the bad press) a few years ago happened after the law on child support enforcement was changed. Before, the individual counties in Illinois (all 102 of them) acted as distributors of child support for parents in his or her counties. The change in the law consolidated that job and put it into the hands of the SDU in DuPage County. Simply put, the new SDU could not suddenly handle the thousands of checks it was receiving each week, with the added burden of a computer system that was useless.

The good news is that the SDU now has sorted out the problems, by and large. For most people, the SDU benefits both parties. We presently generally recommend to clients that they have child support withheld by the employer and paid through the SDU. The result should be a clear record of payments, which benefits everyone. It makes child support payments automatic, which reduces stress for both parents, and helps (but does not guarantee) to keep the state administrative child support authorities from incorrectly believing a parent is delinquent in child support payments.

Last, for parents who pay support, you should explore if there is a state administrative case regarding your child support. Most parents assume that once a case is filed in court, the court case is the only case. This is not necessarily true. Often, the state administrative authorities monitor child support payments, and if his or her records indicate an arrearage, they can have tax refunds withheld, put a mark on your credit and refer the matter to the state’s attorney for possible legal action. If there is a companion state administrative case regarding your support, make sure their records are correct. It can save you a huge amount of headaches.

Let our Diligent Chicago Child Support Attorneys help you through the process

If you are going through the child support process and need more information, email Chicago child support collections lawyer M. Scott Gordon or call 312.360.0250 for our Chicago Office. Our convenient downtown office is located at 180 N. LaSalle Street and our suburban location is located in Skokie.

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