Going through a divorce in Illinois is never easy, but adding children to the mix can make the process even more difficult. Emotions often run high when attempting to solve issues that affect a divorced couple’s children. In all cases, the best interest of the child should always be the focus, but for some custodial parents it can be challenging to allow children to visit the other parent when he or she is not willing to pay child support.
As a result, some parents wonder if visitation can be withheld until child support is paid in whole. Unfortunately, not paying child support does not disqualify a non-custodial parent from seeing his or her children in the state of Illinois.
According to state legislation, parenting time and child support are mutually exclusive issues that cannot be used as leverage against each other. A visitation schedule is typically included in a court-ordered divorce settlement, so denying visitation could result in legal consequences, including contempt of a court order. In Illinois, the courts are obligated to protect the visitation rights of both parents, regardless of whether child support has been paid in full or not.
Visitation is considered to be a child’s right as well. The ability of a child to have a relationship with both parents cannot be prevented by a custodial parent who has not received child support payments. On the other hand, financial support is the responsibility of each parent. A non-custodial parent who chooses not to have a relationship with his or her child is still legally required to pay child support. The courts take both issues seriously, but cannot use one to enforce the other.
Solutions for non-payment
Providing for the basic needs of a child can be difficult on one salary, which is why the non-payment of child support can become a burden on a custodial parent. While withdrawing visitation is not an option, there are other solutions a parent can take to get an ex-spouse to pay, including the following:
- Driver’s license suspension: Illinois SB 3823 allows the Secretary of State to suspend the driver’s license of those parents who fail to make regular child support payments.
- Passport denial: Delinquent parents may have their names submitted to the U.S. Secretary of State, who may then deny a passport.
- Property liens: The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services can place liens on both real and personal property for child support non-payment, including bank accounts and legal claims.
- Consumer reporting: Child support debts can be listed on the delinquent parent’s credit report.
Typically, the best way for a parent to enforce child support payment is to report delinquency to Illinois Child Support Services. Together with an attorney, parents can follow protocol for obtaining payment in a legal manner.