How to Handle Falling Behind on Child Support

"What can I do if I know that I am going to fall behind in my child support payments?"

First, do not fall behind in your child support payments. Easy to say. Hard to do. But follow these tips to deal with the problem.


First, you and MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU must never ignore any summons, notice or letter you receive from any level of government of the State of Illinois, the federal government that seeks child support from you or is a letter or notice informing you of any change to your child support obligation.

Second, even a state's attorney or private attorney that seeks child support from you or is a letter or notice informing you of any change to your child support obligation. This includes the State of Illinois including the Illinois Department of Heath Care and Family Services, the State Disbursement Unit (SDU), any County in Illinois, Court or administrative agency claiming to be enforcing any collection or change to your child support.

If you do ignore a notice the circuit court of a county, the State of Illinois or any of its offices such as the Illinois Attorney General, Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services may make lasting and permanent changes to your child support obligation. You may have an increase in child support you owe and get no further notice or warning.

How Do I Respond to a Notice of Change in My Child Support?

If the letter or notice advises you of a Court date or hearing date before an agency of the State of Illinois, go to that place on time and be prepared to speak up and object to any change, likewise you are entitled to ask to continue the matter to obtain a lawyer.

You are entitled to have a lawyer represent you in those proceeding so consult a lawyer as early on as possible.

If you as paying parent (payor) live outside of Illinois or the parent who receives your child support (payee) is from another State other than Illinois you still need to respond to any notice you may receive.

Likewise, be sure to advise the state or county agency where you pay your child support payment of any change of your address so you are sure to receive any written letter or notice sent to you.

What Happens if I Fail to Attend a Court Date or Hearing Date and My Child Support is Changed?

If you act promptly, usually within 30 days, you may still be able to change the order entered changing child support. You need to file the required written motion or petition to undo what was done and you need to act as quickly as possible. Hiring a lawyer is probably your best path to take.

Once Child Support is Due and Remains Unpaid, Can I Go Back and Change What is Owed?

Probably not. Child support cannot be changed retroactively meaning going back in time in most cases. So that is why it is so important not to ignore letters, notice or court orders that advise you of proposed changes to your child support.

What if I Lose My Job and Cannot Pay Child Support?

If you lose your job and fail to file for a reduction in child support you will still owe the same amount even if you cannot pay that child support. Only a new court order can change child support and that is going forward not backward in time. Also you will owe interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum (per year) on each missed payment beginning the month after the payment is due and for each month it remains unpaid.

What if I Owe a Large Amount of Back Support to the Other Parent? Can I Ask for a Forgiveness of that Child Support or a Waiver?

Again, the forgiveness from the person you owe may be possible but unlikely since that person has no reason to release you from your overdue child support. Also, that person cannot release you from an obligation to the State of Illinois.

What if I Owe a Large Amount of Back Support to the State of Illinois? Can I Ask for Forgiveness of that Child Support or Get a Waiver from the State?

There is a Project Clean Slate program offered by the State of Illinois if you are eligible to wipe out back child support. See Project Clean Slate or to request an application call (312) 793-8222.

If you are in need of child support legal advice, contact the knowledgeable family law attorneys of Martoccio & Martoccio located in Hinsdale, Illinois.

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