For many families, child support payments are an essential resource that allows custodial parents to provide for their children's upbringing. In some cases, though, custodial parents encounter difficulty in recovering payments from the other parent. Noncustodial parents could fail to pay for any number of reasons- the loss of a job, a sudden injury or illness, or an unexpected expense. Occasionally, noncustodial parents simply stop making payments for no discernible reason at all.
Whatever the explanation, noncustodial parents are still required to pay for their children's financial support. Parents reserve the right to go to court to attempt to force a noncustodial parent to make payments, but as some Illinois parents are discovering, this is easier said than done.
In order to prosecute a noncustodial parent for failure to pay, a person must have had the means to pay for a certain amount of time, but simply chose not to. Proving that this is the case is not as easy as it sounds.
In fact, simply getting a parent into the courtroom can prove difficult. An Illinois woman has been fighting the system to receive child support for the past two years, but she has seen little success. Every time she goes to court, her child's father skips the court date.
Some parents feel frustrated by the court's reluctance to take stronger action against noncustodial parents who do not pay their child support. While it is in a judge's power to imprison parents who fail to appear at court or who fail to make their payments, judges are generally hesitant to take this step. Since parents are unable to earn an income while in jail, incarceration tends to exacerbate the child support problem, rather than solve it.
One way for parents to avoid falling behind on their child support payments is to apply for a child support modification when their financial circumstances change. Unemployment or a sudden decrease in income can cause noncustodial parents to quickly fall into debt. Parents who can't make their payments often stop trying, and give up on paying child support altogether. By altering a child support agreement, parents can forge a new arrangement that more accurately reflects a parent's financial situation. This can lead to a settlement that is more manageable for both parties.
Source: WIFR-TV, "Collecting Child Support from Deadbeat Parents," Meghan Dwyer, Nov. 27, 2012