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Illinois authorities take child support obligations very seriously, including garnishing wages, withholding tax refunds, seizing property and more. As a result, when Illinoisans get behind on their child support payments, for bad and good reasons alike, authorities will be in touch. For one man in a nearby state, that contact seemed like a joke, but just at first.

The man had separated, but not yet divorced his wife during a protracted split. Despite that, he did not think too hard when his kids told him that their mother had a baby with another man. That changed over the most recent Father’s Day weekend when authorities sent him a letter saying he owed nearly $10,000 in back child support and medical expenses for the newborn.

It was just a bureaucratic slip-up, right? No. A court had ruled that, under state law, it would be in the best interest of the child if the man paid, even though the court readily acknowledged the man was not a biological parent. Unsurprisingly, the decision caused a stir, which prompted lawmakers to call the law, enacted in 1956, ridiculous.

Fortunately for the man, following the uproar, the court re-considered. The court subsequently issued an order clearing the man of financial responsibility for the child.

Although Illinoisans will not likely receive the same kind of surprise, the incident demonstrates the complexity of family law. Land mines await the uninitiated. As a result, Illinoisans looking to avoid unwanted surprises and to maximize their outcome may benefit from talking with an experienced family law attorney.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Child Support Law Requires Man To Pay For Another Man’s Child,” July 29, 2013.