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When child support is ordered in some circumstances, the non-custodial parent may feel like the system is unfair. This is because he or she may be convinced that the custodial parent will not use any child support paid to benefit the child, and will instead use it for personal needs. This is especially so if the non-custodial parent also provides for the child’s basic needs outside of the child support payments. However you may feel about the situation, you should not decide to simply ignore the child support order and fail to pay. If you do, you could be opening yourself up to some serious consequences.
Consequences of Non-Payment of Child Support
A child support order is a court order. Ignoring it can lead to the court finding the party ordered to pay support in contempt of court. If found in contempt, the non-custodial parent can be sent to jail until they pay what they already owe, or provide the court with a good excuse why they have not been paying.
Under Illinois law, not paying child support in certain circumstances can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Failure to support is an offense of varying degrees in Illinois in the following circumstances:
When a person deserts or willfully refuses to provide child support when he or she has the ability to provide the support;
When a person willfully fails to pay child support for more than six months, or owes more than $5,000 in back child support, and the person has the ability to provide the support; or
When a person leaves the state with the intent to avoid child support if he or she has owed more than $10,000 for longer than six months.
In addition to prison terms for the above actions, a court may order fines, ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, depending on how many years the child support has gone unpaid.
Additionally, the state can suspend the non-custodial parent’s driver’s license. The non-custodial parent’s professional license is also eligible for suspension if the parent is employed in a field that requires a license, such as an attorney, doctor, or an accountant.
If presented with a court order, an employer has to garnish an employee’s wages to pay child support. Once presented with the order, the employer has to verify its authenticity, and follow it. The employer cannot contest the order unless the person whose wages are to be garnished no longer works for them. It is the employee’s responsibility to contest the validity of a garnishment order if he or she feels like they have grounds to do so. The garnished payments are sent to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit for distribution to the custodial parent.
Contact an Attorney in Illinois
If you have been ordered to pay child support but due to changed circumstances can no longer afford the payments, you should contact Martoccio & Martoccio to see if you can get a modification reducing the monthly amount you are required to pay.