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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will explain how to enforce a child support order in Illinois, including if you should hire an attorney to enforce child support, what the penalties are for failing to pay child support in Illinois, and how to enforce child support owed by an out-of-state parent.  

For an overview of Illinois child support law, check out our article: Illinois Child Support 2019.

Should I Hire an Attorney to Enforce A Child Support Order in Illinois?

If a parent fails to make their court-ordered child support payments, the child support recipient’s first move should be to hire a family law attorney to work with the Illinois Department of Child Support Services to pursue administrative remedies and/or to enforce the child support order in court independently.

The Illinois Department of Child Support Services uses a variety of administrative methods outside of the court system to pursue delinquent child support obligations, including wage garnishments, liens on the obligors property, revocation of drivers licenses, intercepting the obligor’s tax refunds, denial of a passport, and criminal prosecution. 

While you do not need to hire an attorney to pursue administrative remedies through the DCSS, many people find hiring a family law attorney to be the best first step in enforcing a child support order for the following reasons:

  • A family law attorney will facilitate your case with DCSS, save you the time and stress of performing the legwork associated with working with the DCSS, and ensure that the matter is pursued effectively.
  • Since the DCSS is a government organization, it may have a backlog of cases. If your case is time sensitive, a family law attorney may be able to achieve more speedy results through the court system. This can be done instead of or in conjunction with pursuing non-judicial remedies through the DCSS. 
  • Family Law attorneys are likely better equipped to handle more complicated cases and provide more personalized services than the DCSS. 

How to Enforce an Illinois Child Support Order

The proper method for enforcing a child support order is to institute a contempt proceeding against the obligor. This is done by filing a motion for post-decree enforcement of the child support order. For a more detailed explanation of contempt proceedings, check out our article: Illinois Contempt of Court Explained.

What are the Penalties for Failing to Pay Child Support in Illinois?

Illinois courts may order a wide range of penalties against a parent who fails to pay their child support, including:

  • Probation
  • Jail time not to exceed six months, with the release for work
  • Community service
  • Fines
  • Wage garnishments
  • Seizing the obligor’s assets to pay arrears
  • Suspension or restriction of driving privileges if the child support has not been paid for at least 90 days or is delinquent in an amount equal to 90 days.

How to Enforce Child Support Owed By an Out-of-State Parent

According to the Uniform Family Support Act, your Illinois child support order will still be enforceable if the obligor moves out of Illinois. You will have the choice of enforcing the child support order in the court that most recently entered or modified the order or in the state where the obligor parent currently lives. For more on this, check our article, How to Transfer Your Child Support Case to a Different State. 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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