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How are child support orders enforced?

Raising a child is an expensive affair. Food, school, insurance and medical expenses can pile up to a significant sum running in the hundreds of thousands. U.S. government data places the cost of raising a child to the age of 17 at over $230,000.

The financial burden can be too much for one parent, which is why child support exists. Both parents should contribute to the cost of bringing up the child. If your co-parent is not meeting their child support obligations, you need to action to ensure that your children are provided for. Fortunately, the law is on your side.

The first thing you need to do is establish the amount of child support. A simple word-of-mouth agreement with your co-parent is not enough. You need to formalize such an agreement by taking it to the court for approval. If you cannot agree on the amount, the court will decide that for you and issue a court order.

A child support order is not optional

Once the court issues its order, the paying parent must comply with it. Otherwise, you can turn to the same court for enforcement.

The non-paying parent may be subject to some of the various direct and indirect enforcement tools intended to compel them to pay up. In Illinois, they include:

  • Wage deduction where child support is taken directly from their wages
  • Professional and driving license suspension or revocation
  • Being held in contempt of court for disobeying court orders with the possibility of a fine or a jail term
  • Liens on their property

While it’s best to first try and sort things out with your co-parent before involving third parties, you need to be prepared to take legal action if necessary for the sake of the children.

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