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What are the penalties for unpaid child support?

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The penalties for failing to pay child support can be severe. The law provides courts several avenues of recourse to pursue settlement for unpaid child support. Those who choose to leave their child support responsibilities unmet may face wage garnishment, bank account seizure, revocation of licenses and other government-issued documents or possibly criminal prosecution.

To pursue payment by a parent who is failing to meet his or her child support burden, the custodial parent must enlist the help of the Division of Child Support Services. The DCSS will then have the power to begin wage garnishment against the non-paying parent as a first course of action to recover the unpaid support. This garnishment will remain in effect until the past due support has been fully paid. If wage garnishment is not a viable option, DCSS may employ other methods to acquire the unpaid support. The agency may intercept federal or state tax refunds, assess liens on property or even seize bank accounts to recover the unpaid support.

The agency also retains the power to levee stiff penalties against the non-paying parent as additional incentive to repay unpaid support. These penalties include the power to revoke a driver's license, United States passport and other professional or occupational licenses. For parents who refuse to pay child support for periods greater than six months while owing more than $5,000, DCSS may request both state and federal prosecution of the non-paying parent. In some cases, a parent could face up to three years in prison, depending on the size of the unpaid obligation.

Unpaid child support is not a thing to be tolerated. The guidance of a skilled family law attorney is able to help any parents suffering from unpaid child support to seek the support they deserve to provide the best life they can for a child.

Source:, "What Happens When You Don't Pay Child Support in Illinois,", accessed July 15, 2016

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