What is the Family Financial Responsibility Act?

Can your Driver’s License be Suspended for Not Paying Child Support in Illinois?

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Updated on:
May 6, 2019

In this article, we answer a reader’s submitted question regarding a driver’s license being suspended for not paying child support. We answer this question by explaining the Family Financial Responsibility Act, the difference between suspension and revocation, how to reinstate your driver’s license, and if you can reinstate your driver’s license without paying your child support.

For more on Illinois child support law, see our article explaining Illinois Child Support Law in 2019.

Can The State Suspend your Driver’s License for Not Paying Child Support?

The state of Illinois enforces legal child support agreements in many ways, and in the event that a noncustodial parent fails to comply with the terms of his or her child support decree, he or she may lose full driving privileges and face other legal penalties.

Paying agreed-to child support is a legal obligation. For more on how Illinois will claim unpaid child support, see our article Can Child Support Be Taken from Unemployment?

The Family Financial Responsibility Act Explained

The Family Financial Responsibility Act allows Illinois courts and the Secretary of State’s office to revoke the driving privileges of parents who are more than three months behind on court-ordered child support payments. For any Illinois drivers facing license suspension, the Secretary of State’s office requires a hearing, whether formal or informal. These hearings have three possible outcomes:

  1. The restoration of the parent’s driving privileges
  2. The granting of a restricted driver permit
  3. The denial of the parent’s driving privileges.

The Illinois Family Financial Responsibility Law enforces two different systems when suspending driver’s licenses due to failure to pay child support:

  1. Court-Ordered Suspension – Once a judge rules that a parent is at least 90 days behind on child support payments, the circuit court notifies the Secretary of State’s office. Next, the Record of Non-Payment of Court-Ordered Child Support Family Responsibility Law is finalized, certified by the court, and submitted to the Secretary of State’s office. Once submitted, the parent’s driver’s license suspension becomes effective in 60 days. If the individual complies with the child support obligations, the court will submit the Compliance of Family Financial Responsibility Law to the Secretary of State’s office. If the individual does not comply with the child support obligations, his or her driver’s license will remain suspended. The circuit court can, however, order the Secretary of State’s office to provide the delinquent parent with a Family Financial Responsibility driving permit to allow travel for work or medical reasons.
  2. DHFS-Ordered Suspension – The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) can also request that the Secretary of State’s office suspend the driver’s license of any parent who is more than 90 days behind on child support payments. Once submitted, the parent’s driver’s license suspension becomes effective in 60 days. If the individual does not comply with the child support obligations, his or her driver’s license will remain suspended. DHFS can, however, order the Secretary of State’s office to provide the delinquent parent with a Family Financial Responsibility driving permit to allow travel for work or medical reasons.

What’s the Difference Between Suspension and Revocation?

Suspensions and revocations both refer to the loss of driving privileges. Suspensions have a clear end date, and revocations are indefinite. If your driver’s license is revoked for any reason, you cannot apply for reinstatement for at least one year, under any circumstances.

How do I Reinstate my Illinois Driver’s License?

How to reinstate my suspended driver's license in Illinois

To reinstate your driver’s license in the state of Illinois, you’ll have to participate in an informal or formal hearing with a Secretary of State hearing officer. These are similar to the hearing mentioned above where you will be tasked with proving that are in good standing with the state and are therefore prepared to receive your driver's license once again.

To request a formal or informal hearing, you’ll have to participate in a consultation with a Secretary of State hearing office to assess your eligibility. If you have lost your driving privileges due to falling behind on court-ordered child support payments, you will only need to request an informal hearing.

Once your informal hearing request is received, the Secretary of State will mail you a Notice of Hearing with your scheduled hearing date. Once the hearing is conducted, a final decision will be mailed to you in 90 days.

If your informal hearing results in the restoration of your driving privileges, you will need to take additional steps to have your license reinstated, including proof of insurance and a $70 fee payment. To schedule a consultation, contact your local Hearing Officer Facility Location.

How Do You Apply for a Restricted Driving Permit?

If you have lost your Illinois driver’s license due to failure to pay court-ordered child support, you may be eligible for a restricted driving permit. A restricted driving permit allows individuals with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses to drive during certain times of day in certain designated areas for certain specified reasons, including traveling to work and traveling for necessary medical purposes.

In order to apply for a restricted driving permit, an offender must appear before a hearing where they will prove their case. At this hearing, the offender must prove that a hardship exists by the denial of their driving privilege and prove that they are working towards correcting the issue that suspended their license. For child support, this may include proof of job or application status.

Can I reinstate my Illinois driver’s license without paying my child support?

No. The only ways an Illinois driver’s license can be reinstated is by paying the current support, paying all past support, and meeting health care obligations. Otherwise, you may have to settle for a restricted driving permit for the time being.

Illinois family law is complex and can be reinforced in many ways. In this article, you were presented with several options if your driver's license is suspended due to negligent child support payments.

One of our readers asked the following question that inspired this article:

Q: My husband’s driver’s license is suspended for failure to pay child support in the state of Illinois. Can he reinstate [his driver’s license] while still being behind? How can he work without a driver’s license so he can pay child support?

A: Unfortunately, your husband cannot reinstate his driver’s license in the state of Illinois until his entire balance is paid off and health care obligations are met. However, it sounds like your husband is eligible for a restricted driving permit. A restricted driving permit allows individuals to drive during certain times of the day in order to allow travel for work. With a restricted driving permit, your husband could continue to work and earn money to pay off his owed child support payments. To request an informal hearing for a restricted driving permit, you’ll have to participate in a consultation with a Secretary of State hearing office to assess your eligibility. To schedule a consultation, contact your local Hearing Officer Facility Location. Once your informal hearing request is received, the Secretary of State will mail you a Notice of Hearing with your scheduled hearing date.


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How do I reinstate my Illinois Driver’s License?What’s the difference between suspension and revocation in Illinois?What happens if my license is suspended for child support in Illinois?How Do You Apply for a Restricted Driving Permit in Illinois?Can I reinstate my Illinois driver’s license without paying my child support in Illinois?How Does a Driver's License Get Revoked in Illinois?How Does a Driver's License Get Revoked in Illinois?Can a revoked license be reinstated in Illinois?
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