How are child support orders enforced in Illinois?

When Illinois parents fall behind or choose not to make their child support payments, the state has a number of enforcement options it may pursue.

Family law courts in Illinois and elsewhere often order child support awards to ensure that both parents fulfill their financial responsibilities to their kids. While most people comply with these orders, there are some situations when parents may fall behind or choose not to pay. Charged with the enforcement of child support orders, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or HFS, has the authority to take various actions to encourage parents to make their child support payments.

Tax refund intercepts

After the stress of tax season, people often look forward to receiving their state and federal refunds. For parents who owe past due support, however, those refunds may be intercepted. The HFS's Division of Child Support Enforcement may seize all or a portion of people's refunds to apply toward their arrears.

Liens

Despite neglecting to fulfill their child support obligations, some parents may have property or financial accounts of some worth. In some cases, the division may place liens against people's personal property, real estate or financial accounts. Typically staying in place until they are up to date on their payments, such liens prevent parents from selling or transferring the associated assets until they are lifted.

License suspensions

Falling behind on their child support payments could affect people's professional and recreational, privileges. When parents are behind on their payments, the division may seek a suspension or revocation of their driver's licenses. Further, they may also have their hunting and fishing licenses, occupational certificates and professional licenses suspended.

Inclusion on HFS website

Another option the state has to encourage parents to comply with child support orders is sharing their information on the delinquent parents web page. This action may be taken against those parents who owe at least $5,000 in past due child support. In such cases, HSF posts the names, photographs and dollar amounts owed on its website.

Criminal prosecution

Issued or approved by judges, child support awards are considered court orders. Consequently, parents who are not in compliance may be found in contempt, and thus, could be subject to criminal prosecution. Depending on the circumstances, parents in such cases may be ordered to pay their arrears, as well as additional fines. They may also be sentenced to probation or up to six months in jail.

Seeking legal guidance

Falling behind on child support in Illinois can create significant issues for custodial and noncustodial parents, as well as for their children. Therefore, those who are owed past due support and those who are struggling with their payments may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A lawyer may help them understand their rights and options and guide them through the legal process.