Illinois struggles to improve collection of child support payments

Illinois does not have a stellar reputation for collecting unpaid child support amounts owed to the state’s custodial parents, but it is trying to improve that record. Just less than 60 percent of the amounts owed in cases handled by the state were repaid in 2012, according to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Nevertheless, that percentage has risen over the past four years, and the state’s elected representatives are working to accelerate that upward trend.

The differing receptions of two recent legislative initiatives demonstrate the current get-tough attitude of legislators with respect to “deadbeat” parents. A bill to allow authorities to garnish casino winnings to pay unpaid child support amounts recently was passed, while a bill to exempt prisoners from their support obligations was voted down.

The legislators of Illinois are clearly determined to do everything possible to enhance the state’s ability to enforce child support orders.

Illinois strives to collect higher percentage of child support owed

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune provides evidence of the state’s poor reputation with respect to the collection of child support. An expert refers to Illinois as “one of the worst states in the nation for collecting child support.”

The state has certainly faced challenges collecting the amounts that are owed to the parents – primarily female – who must house and care for the children: in 2012 (the last full year for which data is available) Illinois collected only 59 percent of the child support owed in state-handled cases. Nevertheless, that percentage compares positively with the 55 percent collected in 2008.

State passes law allowing child support arrears to be garnished from casino winnings

Another option for the collection of unpaid support was recently added: a new law allows authorities to garnish the casino winnings of parents who are behind on their payments. A report by CBS notes that this measure is expected to raise up to $1 million in its initial year.

Casinos and racetracks are now required to check any amount of winnings in excess of $1,200 against the database of non-paying parents maintained by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Any winners who appear in the database will have their winnings garnished and directed to the department, which in turn will pass on the amounts to the custodial parents.

Legislative initiative exempting prisoners from child support obligations fails to pass

In contrast, a legislative measure designed to ease the child support burden on prisoners – whose ability to pay is severely constrained – failed to pass. An article in the Illinois Times indicates that the representatives sponsoring the initiative believe that “the burden of back child support for a prisoner only decreases the chances of them being able to rebuild their lives.”

However, a majority of the state’s elected members did not agree that prisoners should be exempted from their child support obligations – the bill was defeated.

Anyone who is seeking enforcement of a child support order should consider engaging a lawyer with expertise in this area of family law. An experienced lawyer will provide timely advice and vigorous representation to help you obtain the money that you and your children deserve and require.