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McHenry County child support lawyerThe divorce process can be emotionally and financially draining. When you and your ex cared for your children together under one roof, it may have been easier to work together to take care of your family’s financial needs. However, things change significantly after divorce, and both parents may struggle to make ends meet.

If your ex has not been paying child support, this can cause a great deal of difficulty for you. It may be hard to understand why your ex would be avoiding payments, but here are some common reasons that may explain why the funds your child needs are not coming your way:

Changes in Finances

Your ex might not be paying child support because they do not have the money to give. The amount of child support payments specified in a divorce judgment is based on both parents’ finances at the time of the divorce. Issues such as a job loss or large medical expenses can affect how much your ex is able to pay. If you think this may be the reason why you are not receiving child support, you may wish to talk to your ex or even request a modification so that they can at least pay what they are able to. Setting a payment that your ex can afford is better for everyone than not receiving any payments at all.

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3 Common Divorce-Related Issues Every Father Should UnderstandThree or four decades ago, a mother was typically granted full custody of her children if she and her husband got a divorce. The father would usually be awarded visitation rights, and he may have been able to see his kids every other weekend or possibly a couple of days during the week. In today’s world, attitudes toward parenting have changed. Fathers are more likely to be given equal decision-making responsibility for children, and they have the right to parenting time. While this is usually true, many fathers still feel that they are not treated the same as mothers when it comes to the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. In order to protect fathers’ rights, there are some specific issues that fathers should pay attention to when getting a divorce:

Parenting Rights

In the state of Illinois, the courts encourage divorcing parents to come to an agreement on parenting time and decision-making responsibilities on their own. This can be done through the parents themselves or with help from a mediator. If they are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make decisions for them based on what is in the child’s best interests. 

Both parents are legally entitled to have a reasonable amount of parenting time with their children. If a father played a significant role in raising and caring for children while married, he should be able to continue having this same relationship with them following the divorce. The only reason a court can restrict parenting time is if there is clear evidence that spending time with a parent would endanger the child’s physical, mental, emotional, or moral well-being. 

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What Are the Consequences for Not Paying Child Support?Child support payments are mandatory for parents who are divorced or separated from each other. Unlike with the optional spousal maintenance payments, child support is meant to help pay for the expenses related to raising the children, such as food, clothing, and healthcare. A parent who does not pay their share of child support may be depriving their children of the resources needed to grow up healthy and safe. Because of this, Illinois has a range of severe consequences for parents who do not comply with their child support order:

  1. Garnishment: If a parent does not pay child support, a court may order that the noncompliant parent’s financial assets be seized. The most common method is wage garnishment, which can be achieved by filing an Income Withholding for Support request with the parent’s employer. If wage garnishment is not an option, the court may seize funds from a bank account, intercept property tax refunds, put a lien on a property, or hire a private collection agency.
  2. Driver’s License Suspension: When a parent is more than 90 days past due on child support payments, the court may revoke the parent’s driving privileges until they have caught up on payments. It also has the authority to revoke or deny an application for a U.S. passport or professional license.
  3. Criminal Prosecution: Nonpayment of child support becomes a criminal offense in Illinois if a parent has gone more than six months without paying or owes more than $5,000. This is a Class A misdemeanor and will most likely result in a fine. However, the offense becomes a Class 4 felony if the parent flees the state to avoid payment, is more than one year late on payments, or owes more than $20,000. A Class 4 felony in Illinois is punishable by one-to-three years in prison and fines.

Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

If your co-parent is not paying child support, you can enforce payment by contacting the Illinois Division of Child Support Services or filing a complaint in court. If you are in danger of falling behind on child support payments, you need to explain to the court why you are unable to make the payments. You may be able to modify your child support order if the payments are unreasonable given your financial circumstances. Either way, you need the assistance of a Crystal Lake, Illinois, family law lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, to resolve your child support issue. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Additional Expenses Can Increase Child Support ObligationIllinois’ child support system uses an income shares schedule to calculate the monetary obligation that co-parents share each month. The rows in the table have monetary ranges that represent the total of the parents’ combined monthly incomes, and columns show the number of children that the parents have. To read the table, you would find the row where your combined incomes fit and choose the column based on how many children you have. That monetary total is Illinois’ estimate for how much you together should pay towards supporting your children each month. However, that number may not be the final child support total. The basic total excludes some child expenses because they are not always necessary. A family court may add these expenses to your total when they apply to your case.

Childcare

Childcare can be a necessary expense when your children are too young to be left alone and there is not an adult available to watch over them. For child support, childcare may include:

  • Daycare;
  • Before and after-school programs; and
  • Day camps when children are on break from school.

Including childcare as part of child support does not allow parents to choose an unreasonably expensive service. The court will judge whether the expense is reasonable based on the parents’ incomes. Parents also must have a reason why they cannot watch the children, such as working, looking for a job, or attending an educational or vocational program.

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Children Are Priority in Child Support Modification ArgumentsWhen you request to have your monthly child support payments reduced, your co-parent may portray your decision as being selfish. However, caring about the well-being of your children is separate from making sure you are paying an appropriate amount of child support. Courts allow you to modify your child support agreement because circumstances can change for both parents. You may believe that your co-parent is the one being selfish because he or she only cares about getting the maximum amount of money from you. However, your co-parent may be genuinely concerned about being able to provide for your children. During a child support modification dispute, parents should understand that they both likely have their children’s best interests in mind.

Two Sides

It is possible for both parents to have legitimate financial concerns when it comes to modifying child support payments:

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