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Man jailed for non-existent back-child support finally released

Photo of Karen Lavin


For Illinois parents who owe child support, an easy way to make the payments is to have their employer withhold the amount from their paycheck. Normally, having the amount withheld is a reliable way for Illinoisans to make sure their children get what they deserve. But, mistakes will happen.

Take, for example, a father whose employer withheld part of his paycheck to pay his child support. The employer made some kind of clerical mistake. That mistake meant the money did not find its way to the father's son. As a result, a judge had the man jailed, even though the father had already paid-off, the mistake was discovered and the employer confessed the error was its fault.

The judge recently switched course and ordering the father released. The reversal came after the father's lawyer requested the father be released. The father's ex opposed the release. She wanted the father to serve the full sentence (six months).

Although the father is now free, that freedom came at a high price. The father's lawyer estimated that the legal victory costed about $10,000. The price is so high because the father will have to pay for both his and his ex's lawyers.

Illinoisans should take at least two things away from the father's experience. First, do not assume that paycheck withholding is going to the right place. Double-check because it is ultimately the parent, not the employer, who is on the hook for the consequences. Second, the courts do not mess around with child support. Make payments on time, or the consequences could get big quick.

Source: ABC 13, "HOUSTON DAD JAILED OVER CLERICAL CHILD SUPPORT ERROR GETTING RELEASED," Tom Abrahams, July 2, 2014

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