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Child Support Lawyers at O'Flaherty Law

Not All Child Support Lawyers Are The Same

The right child support attorney can have a significant impact on your child's potential quality of life. If the other parent isn't paying child support, you need to ally of child support, or you feel your court ordered child support is unfair, you need an experienced and reliable child support lawyer to make sure your rights, and the rights of your child, are aggressively represented. What makes O’Flaherty Law different from other law firms is our knowledgeable child support attorneys, our outstanding client support, and the ability to take swift action in order to get child support issues resolved. When you need to know how child support works, what the child support process is, and what your rights are, the team at O’Flaherty law can help you at any point in the process.

O'Flaherty Law Family Lawyers - What We Can Offer

With our child support law team you can rest assured that you are getting the best legal advice. We offer legal representation and advice in many areas of family law, including:

Remote consultation

Remote Consultation

The uncertainty of the Coronavirus, doesn't mean you have to put your legal needs on hold. You can receive a consultation and most legal services without leaving your home. Our attorneys are happy to speak to you by phone, video conference, or e-mail.

Divorce attorneys

Divorce Lawyers

Our divorce law team has experienced lawyers knowledgeable in each area of divorce. Backed up by paralegals and legal assistants, we are a complete divorce law firm.

Family law

Family Law

When you are trying to deal with a family law issue or are considering adding a member to your family, it is essential that you have an experienced family law attorney on your side to guide you through the process.

Child Custody

Child Custody

Child custody matters are difficult for everyone involved in the divorce process. To get the best result for your child or children, you need experienced legal service from child custody attorneys that understand the law.



Calculating spousal support, also known as alimony, can feel unfair to both parties in a divorce. At O'Flaherty Law, we are committed to your best interests and securing your financial future.

Best Child Support Lawyers in ChicagoClient Satisfaction Award American Institute of Family Law AttorneysAvvo Rated Clients' Choice in DivorceSuper Lawyers Kevin O'Flaherty Rising StarsAwarded American Institute of Legal Counsel Best Law Firm Client SatisfactionBest lawyers 40 under 40

Our Team Will Help You Obtain Child Support

The process of obtaining child support is a topic we know well, and we are confident we can get you the best possible result, in or out of court. Whether you need an order granting child support, need a child support modification, or are dealing with child support arrears, our attorneys will provide the level of care and attention you deserve. Our team is committed to getting you the maximum child support allowed by law so that you can feel confident that your child’s needs will be met.

Child support family law attorney

Attorney Consultation

The purpose of a consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. We take your legal matters very seriously, which is why with each consultation, we strive to ensure you feel confident about the future of your case.

  • Attorneys experienced in all areas of law
  • Sympathetic yet effective counsel
  • Putting the best interests of you and your children first!
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What to Expect from Your Child Support Attorney

You can expect a superior level of client service and experienced representation. The attorneys and the entire support team of professionals at O’Flaherty Law will respond to your questions and concerns about your child support case promptly. At O’Flaherty Law, we do not speak in “legalese.” We are committed to clearly and concisely explaining what is going on with a child support case in plain language with regular status updates to our clients. You will always be informed, and you will have open-door communication with your child support team.

Guiding You Through the Child Support Court Procedures and Process

Child support court proceedings

Your child support lawyer will have an initial meeting with you where they gather information about your situation and let you know how O'Flaherty Law can help you. Once hired, your child support lawyer will develop a strategy to get you the best possible result for your circumstances.

You must gather all of the documentation that your child support lawyer will need to evaluate your case and develop a strategy properly. You should have your W2s, paycheck or payroll stubs, tax returns, proof of dependents, any preexisting orders or written agreements. If you are dealing with the issue of child support arrears, you should have a list of what has not been paid.

Your child support lawyer will then take the appropriate action to ensure your child support case is moving in the right direction; if that means a letter to the other parent, participating in mediation with the other parent or filing in the appropriate court, you can rest assured that that we will work hard to ensure that your concerns are addressed, and your needs are met.

Calculating the Child Support Amount

Calculating child support payments attorney

When the court determines what child support payments, it relies on a mathematical formula that is defined by statute, otherwise known as a state law. The calculation varies from state to state, with some being simple and others more involved.

Generally, the court will first look each parent's net income. Then the court will analyze how many dependents each parent has, for example if you have children from a previous marriage or relationship that need financial support. Usually, the court will look at how much time the child spends with each parent, although joint, physical and legal custody does not exempt you from paying child support. The court will also consider the cost of child care, medical care for the child (insurance), and whether a parent may be deliberately unemployed or underemployed to avoid paying child support.

Modifying Child Support

Child support arrangements

When the party who pays child support experiences a change in circumstances child support will need to be recalculated and a modification ordered. There are a handful of reason that would qualify for child support modification, but the most common is a change in income. If one parent's income increases or decreases, or if they lose their job, a request for child support modification from the court is reasonable or that party risks accumulating child support arrears, which can be very difficult to recover from financially.

Receiving Your Child Support Payments

Receiving child support payments

How is child support distributed? It depends on your state. Child support is distributed in different ways; some states chose to use an automated system through their Department of Family and/or Human Services to ensure an independent record that payments are made on time and in the correct amount.

Some parents will agree to send a check every month, while others prefer the automated system their state offers. You can count the court setting an amount, and determining what day of the month the child support money is expected to arrive. If the other parent does not send the court ordered child support, they will be in arrears.

How Long Does Child Support Last?

Legal length of child support

Child support typically ends when the child is no longer legally considered a minor. Child support will end if the child goes off to college, gets married or becomes emancipated (becomes an adult through a court process). Sometimes there is a child support agreement between parents that will explain when the child support payments are expected to end. If the child has special needs or certain medical needs that require extra care, the child support may last longer, depending on the situation.

Frequently Asked Questions in Child Support Cases

We encourage our clients ask us many questions during the child support process. Whether you are going through a divorce, have a child from a relationship that ended, or you are seeking a child support modification, we want you to feel informed and know that we are on your side. Although we will be available to answer all of your questions about child support, we have created a list of the questions that are asked most frequently. Being informed is your best first step when you are facing child support issues.

What Happens When a Dead-Beat Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support?

When you have a child support order in place and a certain number of months have passed without receiving any child support, your attorney can go to court and ask for an enforcement order. Once an enforcement order is entered, the parent who has not been paying child support may have their paycheck garnished; furthermore, their state and federal tax returns may be intercepted, and their driver’s license revoked (also some professional licenses). Any request for passport renewal could be refused if child support payments are missed, and eventually that parent will be found in contempt of a court order, which could mean jail time in an extreme situation. You will need to ask the court for an order of contempt, it is not typically an automatic process.

How Do I Enforce Child Support Orders?

You have options when it comes to enforcing a child support order. Note that there must be an order in-place for child support prior to asking for enforcement. If the court has ordered that one party pay child support to another, steps can be taken if the order is not obeyed. Your attorney can petition the court for a child support enforcement order. The penalties for non-payment of child support can be considerable, including garnishment, revocation of various licenses (including driver's license), tax return interception and even jail time.

Some people choose to go through a state agency for enforcement. The state agency will act to enforce the support order on the child’s behalf, so they do not work for you like an attorney, but they are there to help if they can.

Can I Still See My Kids if I Lose Custody?

Yes you can still see your kids if you do not have custody of them. Custody and visitation are two entirely different legal issues and the non-custodial parent can still see the children.

However, if your parental rights have been terminated, you are not allowed to see the children.

Can I Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

Yes, you can go to jail for not paying child support. When you do not pay your court-ordered child support, the court can find you in contempt of court. A child support order is enforceable just like any court order. If you do not follow the order, you can be fined or sent to jail, but generally, you will be given many opportunities to fix the situation before that happens. Jail is considered the last resort for not paying child support because the party ordered to pay can't earn any income during their time in jail, but it does happen.

How Often is Child Support Paid?

Most jurisdictions order that child support be paid once a month on a specific day. You can pay the other parent directly or go through a state agency to pay child support. Many people prefer using the state agency because it cuts down on interaction with the other parent and creates an independent record of payment history.

Do You Have to Pay for a Child You Don’t or Can’t See?

Yes. Legally speaking, paying child support and child visitation are two separate matters. When you pay child support, it is not as though you are paying for your child’s time; you are contributing to their care and well-being. While time spent with the child is generally factored into most child support calculations, not seeing your child does not mean you do not have to pay child support. If you are not being allowed to see your child, you should contact us and we can guide you through the process of getting a child custody or visitation order enforced. Choosing not to spend time with your child does not release you from your obligation to pay child support.

Does Child Support End?

Yes, child support ends, typically when the child turns 18, becomes emancipated, gets married or goes off to college. You might have an arrangement with the other parent regarding support during the college years or your state may have a law that requires some support be paid to help with college expenses.

The important thing to remember is that child support does not end automatically. The court needs to know if the child support no longer needs to be paid, you cannot just stop making payments of your own accord.

Can You Cap Child Support Payments?

The calculation to determine child support is typically based on monthly net income after certain deductions. You cannot request that you only pay a certain amount of child support or that you never pay more than a certain amount of child support. The calculation used by the court to determine the child support amount is automatically presumed to be correct. Some states do cap child support (like Texas) but do not expect child support to be capped or to be capped at a low number. Other states will cap the net combined income of both parents prior to inputting it into the calculation. Your child support attorney will be able to go through the specific requirements of your state and let you know what to expect.

Is Failure to Pay Child Support a Felony?

Yes. Under federal law if you have willfully failed to pay child support for your child who either lives in another state, you have willfully failed to pay for 2 years, or the unpaid amount is $10,000 or more, it is a felony and could certainly mean jail time.

Child support matters need to be handled at the state level before the federal courts will intervene. Depending on your state law, it could be a misdemeanor or a felony. Ask your child support attorney for what penalties your state could impose.

Can I Ask For More Child Support?

Yes, you can ask for more child support if the circumstances allow for it. You can ask for a child support modification if the parent paying child support experiences an increase in income. If you are the parent paying child support and have a decrease in income, you will need to ask for permission from the court to lower your monthly child support payment. If you are requesting a decrease in child support because you have lost your job or taken a pay cut, you will need to continue making your court-ordered child support payments until the court issues a ruling on the modification.

Is Child Support Taxable?

No. The IRS considers child support to be a personal expense if you are paying it and does not consider it income if you are receiving child support payments. You cannot claim child support as a tax deduction. If you have additional questions about tax and child support payment, consult with your tax preparer or a tax attorney, O’Flaherty Law does not offer tax advice.

What are Child Support Arrears?

When a party is ordered to pay child support and does not pay, “arrears” accrue, and you are in arrearage. You are also in violation of a court order. Any portion of court ordered child support you do not pay is considered arrears or “back” child support. Most states typically charge interest on this back child support.

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