Illinois Child Support Now Includes Income Sharing

On July 1, 2017, Illinois underwent a major overhaul of it’s child support laws. Before July 1, child support involved taking a certain percentage of the payor’s net income for each supported child, specifically 20% for one, 28% for two, 32% for three, and 40% for four or more. Although the new system appears difficult to understand, the new laws actually help to create a fairer outcome than the previous laws allowed. The new laws help to make sure each parent pays the fair share of raising a child.

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Other Parent Doesn’t Pay Support. Do I Have to Let Him or Her See the Kids?

The short answer is:  more than likely.

If you are no longer with the other parent of your children, the court entered either a visitation schedule via a parenting agreement, or a parenting plan via an allocation judgment.  This schedule should cover weekly visitation, as well as breaks, birthdays and holidays.  What happens when the parent who has a child support obligation fails to pay?  Can you just revoke that parents’ time with the children?

What does the law say?

According to the law, child support and time with the parent are completely unrelated.  If your children’s other parent is under an obligation to pay support, and has not paid, you cannot withhold the children from visits in retaliation.  In fact, doing so might subject you to a charge of visitation interference.  Visitation interference is a criminal offense in Illinois.  A person committing unlawful visitation or parenting time interference is guilty of a petty offense. Any person violating this Section after 2 prior convictions of unlawful visitation interference or unlawful visitation or parenting time interference, however, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. 

So what do I do?

You send the children regularly for visits and deal with support through the proper channels with the court.  If a parent is not paying support, you can seek help collecting from the States’ Attorney via the IV-D program.  The advantage to the IV-D program is that it’s practically free.  The disadvantage is that it takes significantly longer to get your case to a hearing than if you hire a private attorney.

If you choose to use a private attorney, you will have to pay a retainer up front, but the attorney can seek to have the other parent, who is violating the support order, reimburse you for your legal fees.  The amount that is reimbursed is up to the judge, so it may not be the full amount of what you’ve had to spend to enforce your child support order.

If the other parents has failed to pay due to unemployment, the court can force that parent to keep a job diary, where that person comes to court and reports on job seeking efforts, usually on a weekly basis.

What if, after all this effort, the other parent still hasn’t paid?

When a parent has violated a court order to pay support, the person who is owed support can filed a pleading that asks the court to order the other parent to pay and get caught up.  After a hearing, the court will set the amount owed, and will set a date by which that amount should be paid.  This is called a purge.  If a person has not paid the purge by the date set by the court, the judge can incarcerate the delinquent parent until he or she pays the purge.

Do you need assistance with modifying a visitation schedule or with collecting support?  I practice in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties, and can help you.  Give me a call at (708) 466-6912.

 

If I Have Joint Custody Why Am I Paying Support?

Many people are confused about what joint custody means in Illinois.

In Illinois joint custody means:

  • that the parents must consult with each other regarding:
    • education
    • religion
    • medical decisions

Joint custody does not mean:

  • custody is split 50/50
  • neither parent pays child support

So why am I paying support?

Even if you have joint custody and are splitting time 50/50, it is still possible that you will have to pay support.  Illinois has a statutory formula that is based strictly on a percentage of net income.  However, judges have the  discretion to deviate either up or down depending on the circumstances – but you must ask the court for a deviation.  It is not automatic.

If you are spending an equal amount of time with your children and paying statutory support, and your ex-spouse has a similar income (or more) you may be able to get a downward deviation which would reduce your monthly support obligation.

If you would like to see if a downward deviation might apply to your situation, please contact me.

Parent Violating Court Orders? You Have Remedies

One of the most common types of cases that I handle involve one parent failing to follow a court order.  Whether it’s failure to pay child support or failure to allow visitation, failure to follow a court order has consequences.  People come to me angry and frustrated because they have tried to enforce the court order on their own, but the judge won’t give them any relief.  They are angry with the system, but the system is not the problem.  Pro se litigants do not know the proper procedure to enforce a court order, which often leaves the court with no choice but to deny the relief sought. Continue reading “Parent Violating Court Orders? You Have Remedies”