Divorced couples in Illinois face the difficult task of determining who gets child custody, who pays support and what is in the best interest of their children. Unless the spouses can work together to create their own agreements, the state’s courts use court orders that require the payment of child support.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-third of child support is unpaid, leaving families without the funds needed to take care of children and placing a heavy burden on states. In an attempt to alleviate that burden, Illinois uses a variety of legal proceedings to enforce the payment of a child support order.

Contempt proceedings

 An order for child support due to a divorce is treated the same as any other court order. A delinquent parent who does not pay child support can be held in contempt of court and may even face imprisonment. According to Illinois law, if a parent is found guilty of not paying child support, he or she may be placed on probation or sentenced to prison for a period of less than six months. However, if the support is unpaid for more than six months or the arrearage is more than $5,000, the non-paying parent could face a Class A misdemeanor and up to one year in jail. 

Wage deduction 

Federal law mandates that employers must garnish wages when a support enforcement order requires them to do so. Employers who choose not to withhold face the possibility of fines for each day of disobedience. Illinois uses the State Disbursement Unit as its child support payment processing center where employers submit wage garnishments. Income withholding can be used for both past-due and current unpaid child support. 

License suspension

In Illinois, a non-paying parent’s driver’s license can be suspended if he or she has not paid child support for over six months. The Family Financial Responsibility Law allows the Secretary of State’s Office to revoke a driver’s license until payment is made in full following a notice period of 60 days.

The court may also revoke a professional license that may be required for employment in the state, such as a medical or law license, or may suspend an occupational certificate, hunting license or U.S. passport.

Obtaining legal assistance

A custodial parent who does not receive child support payments has to deal with the frustration of a deadbeat parent, as well as lost income. An attorney experienced in family law can provide advice and guidance when beginning any of these child support enforcement proceedings against a parent who refuses to pay.