Children should not be financially penalized when their parents get a divorce. So, in income share states like Illinois, child support payments help children have the same standard of living they would have had if their parents remain married.
That is the theory. Unfortunately, this theoretical approach rarely works out. Over half of all child support obligors only pay part of their court-ordered support. A significant number of obligors pay nothing at all.
Legally, the Attorney General has jurisdiction over unpaid child support matters. Overall, turning family matters over to the state is usually a bad idea. This area is no exception. The State’s Attorney works for the state, and not for the obligee. As far as the state is concerned, the obligee is only a statistic.
Partnering with a private Lincolnshire family law attorney puts obligees in control. Roughly the same enforcement mechanisms are available. But the individual, and not the state, decides the best course of action.
Some obligors are willing to comply, but they need some incentive to do so. Other obligors might react harshly, or even violently, to an aggressive collection effort. In either situation, a demand letter might be the ideal approach.
Frequently, a Lincolnshire family law attorney’s letter convinces obligors to make good on their commitments. They are fully aware that the next step is a more aggressive collection tactic, and they want to avoid that. Additionally, in their heart of hearts, many obligors are willing to do the right thing.
Other times, it is best not to pour gasoline on a smoldering fire. That is especially true if the parties have recently been to court over an unrelated matter, like parenting time division. Demand letters have considerable moral force, but they have absolutely no legal force.
Credit or Property Lien
At first blush, a financial lien might seem like a waste of time and effort. In many cases, that is true. But like a demand letter, in other cases, a lien is ideal.
Property and credit liens mean essentially nothing at the time the obligee files them. Eventually, the obligor will want to borrow money or sell the property. At that point, the obligor must address the lien. Generally, Lincolnshire family law attorneys negotiate payment arrangements. For example, an attorney might release the lien if the obligor pays some of the arrearage upfront and agrees to pay the rest via wage withholding.
This step is usually the easiest and most effective. Most divorce orders include latent wage withholding order provisions. Typically, the decree says something like there will be no wage withholding unless the obligor becomes delinquent. In these cases, executing a wage withholding order is usually simply a matter of filing paperwork.
In most cases, obligees may withhold up to 50% of an obligor’s income for past due and current child support.
Payment Intercept/Asset Freeze
We grouped these two tactics because they are basically the same. If the obligor is delinquent, lottery winnings, tax refunds, life insurance payouts, mortgage escrow refunds, and most other windfalls are subject to payment intercept.
Asset freeze is a bit different. After a Lincolnshire family law attorney locates the obligor’s account and obtains a court order, it is usually possible to freeze the account. An attorney usually “thaws” the account once the obligor pays some upfront money and sets up a payment plan for the rest.
As might be expected, incarceration is reserved for extreme situations. Generally, a judge will not consider jail time for contempt unless the obligor is seriously delinquent and has blatantly ignored other enforcement actions.
Count on a Dedicated Lawyer
If your former spouse owes back child support, you have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Lincolnshire divorce attorney, contact the Law Offices of Martin A. Delaney III, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.