In Illinois, the collection of child support is serious business. This state has well-established laws, and clear public policy, that favors the payment of child support, to promote the support of the family. In short: Pay your child support or you may suffer the consequences.

If you are an OBLIGOR, and you are behind on your child support, you may have already had a brush with the law. Courts in Illinois have the power to look at your income and your assets and make you a judgment debtor for purposes of paying child support.

If you are found to be a judgment debtor, you may be called upon to deliver up any assets the court can discover, to be applied in satisfaction of the judgment for child support. Under the famous 2008 case Marriage of Takata, 383 IL App 3d 782, even assets you thought were exempt from judgment, like your Individual Retirement Account, are available to the court for payment of your child support obligation.

The Illinois Court has the authority to:

Establish a support order;

Modify a support order;

Determine which order controls if there are multiple orders;

Determine parentage;

Order you to comply with a support order, both the amount and the manner of payment;

Order your income to be withheld;

Determine what arrearages you owe and the method of payment;

Enforce orders by criminal and civil contempt;

Set aside your property to satisfy an order;

Place a lien on your property to satisfy an order;

Order you to keep the court informed of your contact information and employment;

Issue a warrant for your arrest;

Order you to seek employment;

Order you to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees and court costs.

When you meet the judge, try to remember that your income and retirement assets could be subject to turnover for child support, and your freedom could be forfeited, if you fail to meet your support obligations. If the Court finds that you are in contempt for non-payment of support, you could be required to pay attorneys’ fees and costs under Section 508. Further, if the State of Illinois is notified of your non-payment of support, your driver’s license may be suspended, your tax refund may be intercepted, all manner of punishments may come your way. 

If you are truly not able to pay your support obligation, you should determine if you are eligible to file a Motion to Modify your support obligation. But remember, any modification will be retroactive only to the date of the filing of your motion. You are still on the hook for past unpaid support. 

If all of this sounds overwhelming, make sure you consult with a family law attorney so that you know your rights and your risks.

By: Joan van Oss

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