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Dealing with back child support issues in Illinois? Understand your legal pathway regarding back child support laws in Illinois, including actionable steps for enforcement and collecting arrears. This article offers a clear outline of your responsibilities, whether you’re paying or receiving, ensuring you’re informed on the imperative aspects of managing these obligations.

Can child support be awarded retroactively in Illinois?

The quick answer is, yes. Child support can be backdated or retroactively awarded in the state of Illinois; however, as with most cases of a legal nature there is a process and time is of the essence. In paternity cases, the general rule is that child support will be rewarded back to the date the parent in question was served with “Papers to Establish a Father-Child Relationship” (Parent in question is the father in this case). If the father is served with “Papers to Establish a Father-Child Relationship on October 1st followed by the Mother filing a motion requesting Child Support on December 1st with the court hearing being settled February 1st and the Mother being awarded Child Support then at the very least payments will be awarded dating back to October 1st.

In cases in which one of the parties files a petition to modify an existing child support order, the parties' child support obligations can be modified retroactively to the date of the petition to modify the child support.

A mom kissing her child on the cheek.

What if I didn’t file for child support right away?

Let’s say in the example above that little Jimmy is now eight years old and the Mother or Father go through the same process. In cases where the parent did not apply for child support until some time had past after the birth of the child the immediate rules are still the same, and retroactive payments can be ordered starting at the date of the parent being served with the proper papers. So, little Jimmy’s Father would be forced to pay child support back to October 1st. But what about the previous eight years? Below is a list of factors the court must consider when deciding to award Retroactive Child Support beyond the initial filing date:

  • The Father’s prior knowledge of the fact and circumstance of the child’s birth;
  • Father’s willingness or refusal to assist raising or support the child;
  • Reasons for the delay in filing for Child Support;
  • The extent to with the Father would be prejudiced by the delay in bringing action
  • The extent to with the Mother previously informed the Father of the child’s needs or made attempts to seek or require his help in raising or supporting the child

Filing a Claim for Back Child Support

Proper preparation is vital when making a claim for back child support. In the state of Illinois, parents with custody must:

  1. Gather proof of expenses incurred before the establishment of a child support order.
  2. Present this evidence to the court.
  3. The court will evaluate and determine an appropriate amount for retroactive child support.

To file a request for retroactive child support, it is necessary for custody parents to provide relevant evidence that supports their claim. After reviewing all circumstances related to the case, the court will decide on an adequate sum based on specific factors such as financial capability demonstrated by noncustodial parent’s attorney or previous period preceding petition filing date can also be taken into consideration while approving payments towards back child assistance requested by custodian party in dispute resolution process initiated legally through family law system However ,the ultimate decision rests upon presentation and evaluation of convincing evidence presented before judiciary authorities .

Update 8/30/18:

A viewer posted the following question on our YouTube Channel:

Q: In Southern IL. Wanted to know what IL statute or case law allows for Retroactive CS, if the mother did not previously petition, based on the factors you talk about in this video. So the father knew the child was his, never offered to pay CS and threaten not to be involved if placed on CS. Also abuse by dad to mom. Please help.

A: Thanks for your question.  The statute that lists the factors is 735 ILCS 46/802(e).  Here's a link:


There is no hard-set rule for how far back retroactive support can be awarded, with the decision falling to the judge presiding over the case. Obtaining retroactive child support can be an emotional process but if the proper steps are followed and the appropriate facts and information are presented to the court it need not be a difficult one. Seeking out proper legal counsel is the first step to achieving your goals. Educate yourself on the process and be prepared to answer the questions listed above.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a statute of limitations on back child support in Illinois?

There is no time limit for collecting child support arrears in Illinois, which means that you can still pursue your ex-partner for any outstanding payments, regardless of the age of the child. This law allows parents to hold their partners responsible and accountable for providing financial support towards raising a child, even if they are now grown up.

How much back child support is a felony in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, failing to fulfill child support obligations for a period of more than one year or an amount exceeding $20,000 is classified as a Class 4 felony. Deliberately leaving the state in order to avoid paying child support for over six months or if the unpaid amount goes beyond $5,000 also falls under this same category of offense.

How far behind in child support before a warrant is issued in IL?

If a parent without custody in Illinois fails to provide child support for more than six months or owes the other parent over $5,000, the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) has the authority to pursue state prosecution against that individual. This action is taken due to their failure to fulfill their financial obligations towards supporting their child as ordered by the court.

Can child support be forgiven in Illinois?

Yes, in Illinois, child support can be forgiven through the Clean Slate Program if the parent can demonstrate an ability to pay and meets the program’s criteria.

The program is offered by Healthcare and Family Services, Division of Child Support Services.

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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