Two different parties can cause you big problems if you’re behind on your child support in Illinois: 1) The parent you owe the money to and 2) The clerk of court.
The parent you owe money to may file a Petition For Rule To Show Cause (And Adjudication On Indirect Civil Contempt) after being even a day late or a dollar short on your child support payment. If the support is paid before the petition brought to court, the Petition For Rule To Show Cause is usually considered moot and there are no significant consequences.
If the you are unable to pay the child support before the next court date, the court will consider whether it seems like, on the face of it, you are in fact behind on your child support. If you are, “the rule will be issued” which means you have to come back again and prove that you are not , in fact, behind on child support. If you cannot prove that you’re not behind in child support you’ll be found in contempt of court. This is when things get really serious, you could be sent to jail if you’re held in contempt of court. This is called a “body attachment” and is essentially the civil equivalent of a warrant for arrest. Typically, the court provides a “purge amount” that you can pay to avoid going to jail while you catch up on the child support owed.
Finally, you will be responsible for the any and all fees associated with your violation of the order that were accrued by the other parent after you are found in contempt. This is extremely expensive as those fees include attorney fees which can be anywhere from $ 200 to $ 450 an hour.
The real solution to this problem is to file a motion to modify child support to an amount that is manageable. To do so, there must be a “substantial change in circumstances” that amounts to at least 20% change in child support according the guidelines. The child support guidelines are extremely complicated but can be great largely arrived at this website provided by the state.
If you calculate that your child support should be 20% less or more, you can file a motion to modify child support.
If the clerk of court is not deducting child support from your check or requiring you to make payments through the clerk’s office. This will cost $ 36 a year for the clerk to process this. 750 ILCS 5/705(7)
If you are $ 10,000 or 3 months behind, the court may report you to a credit rating agency. 750 ILCS 5/706.3(b). The court may even publish your name in the local newspaper. 750 ILCS 5/706.3(c). I have not known this publication to happen in Cook County, however.
The child support arrearage will then accrue at a 9% interest rate.
If your children begin receiving almost any kind of aid, the clerk will alert the state’s attorney that you are in arrears on your child support. 750 ILCS 5/710. The state’s attorney will then take over the other parent’s case at no cost and typically require that parent to be present at each court date.