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Wheaton child support enforcement attorneyParenting after a divorce can be a challenging proposition. A single parent’s struggles are only made greater by an ex-spouse who has stopped paying child support. While your ex-spouse may provide excuses about why payments have stopped or are behind, obligations for child support are court-ordered and not subject to modification by the parties involved. Only the court can approve a modification, and only then with a legitimate and qualifying reason. To ensure your child support payments are made on time, the first step is to contact an experienced child support enforcement attorney.

Options for Child Support Enforcement

Child support payments serve to assist the parent with the greater allocation of parental responsibilities to provide basic needs for their children. If those payments are late, less than required, or stop altogether, it could have a serious impact on the children’s life and wellbeing.

While payments are set up based on the circumstances of both spouses at the time of the divorce, including the parents’ net income and the number of children, Illinois law recognizes that circumstances can change in the months and years that follow. Modifications to child support payments can be considered by the court, including if the payor has lost their job, has taken an involuntary cut in pay, or has become sick with a major illness that impacts their ability to make a living.

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DuPage County child support attorneyEvery parent wants to see their child grow up to be a successful adult. Post-secondary education, whether at a university, community college, or technical training, can be incredibly important for a young adult’s career and earning potential throughout their lifetime. After a divorce, you may be unclear about who is responsible for providing financial assistance for your child’s college expenses, especially since they are no longer a minor. Under Illinois law, unlike most other states, a spouse can seek financial support from their ex after a divorce, even after the child turns 18.

Educational Assistance After a Divorce

While in many divorce cases, child support payments end after the child turns 18. However, Illinois law allows a divorced parent to seek educational expenses for their child from the other parent. Many divorcing parents may come to an agreement on each’s share of postsecondary education costs, either as part of the divorce settlement or in post-divorce agreements. However, if there is disagreement on the amount of support or even whether support should be provided, the case may end up in court. A judge will decide on each parent’s share of educational expenses based on their financial situation, as well as the financial resources that the child has or could obtain through financial aid or scholarships.

The share of education expenses that the parents are responsible for covering can include tuition, room, board, books, medical insurance, other medical and dental expenses, transportation, and other reasonable living expenses. The student is responsible for maintaining at least a C average. The amount is limited to the cost of in-state tuition, fees, and on-campus housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the same year unless good cause is shown for the need for higher costs. The student, in most cases, must be no older than 23 to receive the support.

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DuPage County child support lawyerAfter a divorce, many parents take a while to get used to their new financial situations. If you have taken on more of the parental responsibility and parenting time, you may be receiving child support payments. The payments may have been ordered by the court or you and your ex-spouse may have come to an amicable resolution and worked together to negotiate an agreement that met the needs of the children and the legal requirements.

Regardless of how it was determined, the payment amount reflects the situation of both parents at the time the divorce agreement was finalized. But, situations can change as people move, get new jobs, or develop new medical conditions. Illinois law allows for modifications to child support and spousal maintenance payments based on a variety of factors.

Changes in Child Support Payments

Child support payments are largely based on the incomes of both parents and the number of children being supported. If one parent has more parental responsibility and parenting time, those differences will also be considered when determining child support payments. Other needs that your child may have that can be taken into account when negotiating child support include daycare and education tuition, medical needs, and extracurricular activities.

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DuPage County family lawyerThe Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 5.9 million people were unemployed in April of this year. If you or your child’s other parent is unemployed or underemployed, you may wonder how this can influence child support calculations. Presently, child support in Illinois is calculated via the income shares model. This calculation method uses both parents’ net incomes to determine how much a parent pays in child support. What happens if a parent’s income is very low?  

Voluntary Unemployment Versus Involuntary Unemployment  

Some people find themselves laid off due to budget cuts, the COVID-19 pandemic, or other reasons. They want to work but cannot find or keep a job. Others choose not to work or make little effort to find suitable employment. Illinois courts handle voluntary unemployment and underemployment differently than involuntary employment difficulties. A parent who is unwillingly unemployed or underemployed may be able to reduce their child support obligation through a child support modification. However, the court will have little sympathy for a parent who chooses not to work.

Child Support Calculations May Be Based on Actual or Imputed Income

If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or chooses to make less money than he or she could, the court may use the parent’s imputed income to determine child support. Imputed income or estimated income is what the court determines a parent could be making if he or she puts in the necessary effort. The parent’s work history, education, job skills, and the current job market are considered by courts when determining imputed income. The court may also impute a parent’s income if evidence suggests that a parent is hiding income by receiving payments “under the table” in cash.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1134923861.jpg Divorced and separated parents frequently disagree about child support. The parent who is ordered to pay often feels as though the money is not being used correctly, and the receiving parent often feels as though the payments are insufficient to meet the child’s needs. Sometimes a parent will fail to pay child support because he or she feels the amount is unfair or because it seems impossible to afford it. 

But no matter the reason, Illinois takes failure to pay child support seriously. Unpaid child support places the full financial burden of raising a child on one parent and reduces the child’s standard of living through no fault of the child. If you are a parent who should be receiving child support and your child’s other parent refuses to pay, it is important to try every method possible to enforce your child support order. An experienced DuPage County child support attorney may be able to help you recover unpaid child support more quickly. 

Try Communicating First

Before taking the issue to court, try to resolve the problem with your child’s other parent. Reasonable people can sometimes explain why they missed their payments, as well as any plans to make them up. But if they fail to respond or are uncooperative, it may be time to take legal action. 

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