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Child Support Arrears

Child support is in arrears when a parent who is obligated to pay court ordered child support has failed to follow through on his or her obligation to pay and the payments have now become “past due.” If you are owed child support, with the help of an attorney, you will be able to petition the court for enforcement of this child support so you will soon be able to receive the financial support that your child owed.

Failure to pay child support can result in severe consequences regardless of whether they are in arrears or not. The consequences a parent may endure from child support arrears may include:

  • Negative impact to your credit history
  • Restrictions on driving privileges
  • Restrictions on travel
  • Can limit your freedom

Consequences for Failing to Pay Child Support

In Illinois, if a party ignores a court order or judgment regarding child support it can result in a contempt action. If you owe child support, waiting will only exacerbate the situation and may result in additional consequences. Specific consequences that may occur because of this includes:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Money judgments
  • Incarceration of the offender

Wage Garnishment and Child Support

Wage garnishment is when a portion of the payor spouse’s paycheck is sent to the payee spouse until the child support arrearage is satisfied. A certain percentage of the noncustodial parent’s net wages, typically around fifty percent, will be garnished from his or her paycheck. This is the most common way in which child support arrearages are collected.

In order to obtain a wage garnishment order, the custodial parent must receive authorization from the court to seize the wages of the noncustodial parent. Then, to be in full effect, the employer of the noncustodial parent must be notified of the wage garnishment order by either the custodial parent, the court, state agency, or an attorney. Finally, the employer will notify the noncustodial parent of the garnishment order.

Property may also be seized in attempt to obtain the unpaid support in the case that the wage garnishment does not cover the amount owed, or the noncustodial parent does not have an income to be garnished. Property that may be obtained can range from real property, such as a house, to tangible personal property, like a vehicle, all the way to intangible personal property, stocks for example.

Calculating Interest on Child Support

In the past, Illinois enacted a law which prevented the enforcement of unpaid child support by custodial parents if it had been twenty years or more since the payment was missed. The reasoning behind this law is simply that if the custodial parent did not attempt to enforce the payment while the child was still a minor then it is presumed that if that were the case then the custodial parent did not need the money.

After realizing that the law was essentially encouraging the continued nonpayment of child support, the Illinois Legislature made a change. The twenty year statute of limitations for missed payments of child support was abolished and it was made clear that custodial parents had the right to request reimbursements for the expenses he or she took on in raising the child no matter when they occurred.

Child support is a lifelong obligation and Illinois made clear when they made this change in 1997 that it should be taken seriously. In addition to the custodial parent’s right to obtain unpaid amounts, these individual amounts accrue a 9% interest rate annually. Awarding interest on support that has been past due since before January 1, 2000 is discretionary, but any past due child support dated after January 1, 2000 has mandatory interest.

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