Enforcing Child Support Obligations

Posted on in Child Custody

Parents can sometimes be dismayed to discover that securing a child support obligation in court does not end the battle. In some cases, collecting the support that the other parent owes can present a difficult problem. Fortunately, Illinois law provides a wide degree of options to help enforce support obligations. These options vary in severity from a simple civil lawsuit or contempt petition, to criminal penalties for more egregious cases of delinquency.

 child support IMAGECivil Remedies The law gives a parent receiving child support the option to bring a suit against the supporting parent for failing to pay child support obligations. If the suit succeeds then the judgment will accrue interest against the the supporting parent. The judgment may also provide other collection options like wage garnishments in order to ensure payment. Parents may also file a contempt petition. This petition asks the judge to hold the delinquent spouse in contempt of court, which comes with increased civil penalties. Parents held in contempt of court could find themselves subject to a fine and possibly even imprisonment for up to six months or until they pay off their support obligations. Custodial parents should also keep in mind that the law does not allow them to use visitation rights as a method of enforcing child support obligations. That means that regardless of whether the supporting parent fails to pay child support, they still have the right to visit the child, and courts will enforce that right. Criminal Penalties In some circumstances, civil suits and contempt of court will not be enough to extract payment. In those cases, if the non-payment is serious enough, the law provides criminal penalties for the non-payment of support obligations. A parent collecting support may choose to initiate one of these cases by petitioning an Illinois State's Attorney, who will then handle the case's prosecution. A supporting parent's actions become eligible for criminal penalties once they fall more than six months behind on their child support, or if their support debt exceeds $5,000. A first offense would qualify as a Class A misdemeanor and repeated offenses become felonies. The law also provides for certain aggravating factors that can move a first offense to a felony level, such as leaving the state in order to avoid a debt of $10,000 or more, or having more that $20,000 of child support debt outstanding. If you are having trouble collecting child support, or face other post-divorce issues, contact a Wheaton divorce attorney today. They can guide you through the complexities of the court process, and help ensure that your rights are protected.

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