a parent with children, child supportEnforcing child support orders is crucial to providing for the health and well-being of a child following a divorce. Parents who shirk their responsibility to pay child support create considerable burdens on the primary parent. Across the country, it is estimated that approximately 37.5 million parents are owed child support, and up to 25 million of these receive absolutely no support from their former spouse or partner. Fortunately, primary parents in Illinois have several mechanisms at their disposal for collecting child support arrears so that they can care for and meet the needs of their children.

Wage Garnishment

The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is operated by the Illinois Department of Health & Family Services. They have the authority to implement and enforce wage garnishments against assets and income earned by “deadbeat parents.” The DCSS also has the authority to collect lump sum payments or to intercept state and federal tax refunds.

When an action is initiated, they will serve an order for Withholding for Support directly to the employer. This will remain in effect and garnishments will continue until the arrears are cleared and the parent becomes compliant with their court ordered child support obligations. If a parent becomes compliant and then lapses into delinquent status again, the garnishment orders may be reinstated.

Collecting Interest on Arrears

Under Illinois statutes, primary parents are entitled to collect interest on child support arrears. Interest accrues at 9% per year and can be assessed to either temporary or permanent child support orders. Interest on child support obligations accrues from the date a payment is due and any payments that are made are applied first to the interest portion before being applied to the principal balance. When calculating interest, it is important to note that each month child support is due is considered its own separate judgment and interest accrued should be calculated accordingly.

Pursuing Child Support Arrears & Penalties

There is no statute of limitations on collecting overdue child support. A primary parent and their divorce attorney may pursue arrears owed on any child support order that was initiated prior to the child reaching the age of majority.

In addition to interest penalties, individuals in Illinois may face more serious consequences for failing to pay child support. These can include loss of driving privileges, professional licensure, fines, and imprisonment. The State of Illinois considers owing less than $5,000 a misdemeanor offense, and amounts over $20,000 can lead to felony charges.