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How Does Unemployment Affect Child Support Payments in Illinois?

Posted on in Child Support

st charles child support lawyerAny parent can confirm the fact that having children can get very expensive. Childcare, tuition and other school expenses, and extracurricular fees are just some of the child-related costs parents may encounter.

Many divorced and unmarried parents receive financial assistance from the other parent in the form of child support payments. However, some parents may experience financial difficulties that leave them unable to pay child support. If you or your child’s other parent are currently unemployed or facing another financial hardship, you may wonder how this can influence child support payments. Read on to learn how Illinois courts handle child support when a parent is unemployed and what you should do if you need to modify or enforce your current child support order.

Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support if They are Unemployed?

A statutory formula determines the amount that a parent pays in child support in Illinois. Both parent’s net incomes are taken into account so that the payment amount is appropriate and reasonably affordable. You  may ask, “If a parent has no income, does that mean that he or she is absolved of his or her child support obligation?” The short answer is no. Unemployment does not automatically terminate or decrease a parent’s child support obligation. However, the parent may be able to reduce his or her child support obligation by successfully petitioning the court for a child support order modification.

If you cannot pay your current child support order, you must notify the court immediately and seek a modification. A parent who ceases payments without court approval may be subject to serious penalties, including property liens, asset seizure, and driver’s license suspension.

Voluntary Unemployment Vs. Involuntary Unemployment

One major factor Illinois courts consider during child support determinations is whether a parent’s unemployment is voluntary or involuntary. Parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially. A parent cannot evade this responsibility by quitting his or her job or voluntarily taking a lesser-paying position.

When a parent gets laid off from work or is otherwise involuntarily unemployed, the court may use his or her current income to calculate child support payments. Unemployment benefits and other financial assistance typically count toward a parent’s net income for child support calculation purposes. However, if the parent chooses not to work or makes little effort to regain employment after being fired or laid off, the court may use the parent’s “potential income” to determine his or her child support obligation. A parent’s potential income is determined by his or her work history, education and job skills, and overall employability.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

Employment can create a major financial strain in a parent’s life. If you need to modify your child support order to account for a job loss or other financial hardship, contact Weiler & Lengle P.C. for help. Our Kane County child support attorneys are also equipped to help parents enforce a child support order and collect payments from a non-paying parent. Call us today at 630-382-8050 for a confidential consultation.


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