Illinois supporting parents currently owe approximately $3 billion in unpaid child support, and a new law hopes to address not only the numbers, but also the reasons behind the numbers.
House Bill 2791, which took effect July 30, challenges the notion that past-due supporting parents are simply “deadbeat dads” who refuse to pay. Instead, State Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago), the bill's sponsor, believes that parents fall behind because they are unable to pay. Accordingly, the new law directs the Division of Child Support Services to “identify and minimize barriers to paying child support so as to decrease the total amount of unpaid child support in Illinois.”
The study will develop an accurate demographic profile of delinquent parents, including their incomes, the ratio of the child support amount to that income, primary language spoken, employment history, and criminal history. The study will also examine any “institutional barriers” to collection and assess any impact that unpaid child support has on a supporting parent's ability to get a job.
In an accompanying statement, Rep. Lilly stressed that HB 2791 is designed to make the system more efficient and not give past-due supporting parents the chance to justify their actions.
Child Support in Illinois
The impetus behind HB 2791 is the idea that delinquent payors are predominantly poor and nonwhite, employers do not hire them because of their negative credit histories and possible issues regarding withholding orders, and the collection system is inefficient and biased. Whether or not these things are true remains to be seen.
Although some other states have reworked their child support laws to account for the relative incomes of the parents, the amount of time they spend with their children, and other factors, the State Legislature did not really incorporate any of these changes into the new Senate Bill 57. Instead, Illinois is still a straight percentage-of-income state, albeit with a twist.
The child support guidelines state that supporting parents must pay a percentage of their net incomes on a scale that starts at 20 percent for one child and ends at 50 percent for six or more children. “Income” is broadly defined to include imputed income, if the court finds that the supporting parent intentionally quit a high-paying job to avoid paying child support.
The court may deviate from the guideline amount if it finds that such action is necessary after considering the children's:
- Educational, emotional, and physical needs;
- Probable standard of living if the parents lived together; and
- Financial needs and resources (this factor also applies to the parents).
Either party may typically file a motion to modify the amount based on a permanent and unanticipated change in circumstances.
A measure of financial security is important to both children and parents. If your family is dealing with child support issues, contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney for a confidential consultation. After-hours appointments are available.