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What is the government's role in Illinois child support?

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In many cases, Illinoisans never need to wonder about the state's role in enforcing child support. In these situations, no one needs to wonder because the parent who owes child support (typically the parent who does not live with the child) pays his or her child-support obligation on time and in full each month. However, not everyone is so fortunate. In these less-fortunate situations, the government's role can become pivotal in ensuring the non-custodial parent pays his or her child support.

Child support orders come from family law courts. Courts consult Illinois' child-support guidelines when they calculate the amount of support. This calculation is primarily determined by considering the non-custodial parent's income and the number of children. Other factors that can impact the calculation are the child's specific needs and the custodial parent's income.

However, courts can sometimes deviate from the state guidelines, when there are significant reasons for doing so. Common examples include a rise in the non-custodial parent's income, a drop in the custodial parent's income and an increase in the child's needs.

After the court issues a child-support order, the government will step in if the non-custodial parent falls behind on his or her obligations. State agencies may provide financial assistance to the custodial parent. However, the government will then want the other parent to pay it back. The government can ensure the payments get made in a variety of ways. For instance, the government can order a non-custodial parent's employer to withhold a specified amount from the non-custodial parent's paycheck. Alternatively, the government can withhold tax refunds, seize personal property or real estate or a number of other measures.

Illinoisans who have further questions about child support may benefit from seeking answers from an experienced family law attorney. Understanding your rights and responsibilities ensures that you stay on the right side of the law.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Child Support Basics," accessed on Sept. 9, 2014

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