What to Do If You Are Struggling to Pay Child Support
There is definitely a stigma against parents who fall behind on their child support payments. However, many come by it honestly. It can be difficult to know what to do when a job loss, disability or other reduction in income suddenly makes a previously manageable support obligation completely beyond your reach. What’s more, the first impulse that many parents have when put in this situation often succeeds only in making matters worse. That is why it is important to take prompt action as soon as you begin to struggle with your payments.
Child support in Illinois is usually based on a fixed percentage of the payor parent’s income. The purpose of this method is to prevent the payments from every becoming overly burdensome. However, regardless of the circumstances, a child support order remains in effect until changed by the court. Therefore, you need to remember several things:
- Unilaterally reducing or discontinuing child support payments can lead to costly enforcement actions, even if you have a good reason for doing so.
- Modifications to your child support obligation are usually not retroactive. Failing to promptly request a modification can leave you paying unreasonably high child support for a longer period and can prevent you from ever getting that money back.
- Simply asking the other parent to give you a break is not effective. Even if the other parent agrees, there is nothing stopping him or her from having a change of heart. Furthermore, the state still records your missed payments and may pursue collection unilaterally.
It is always tempting to hope that hard times are not going to last and that your reduction in income is only temporary. However, waiting too long to consult an experienced child support attorney about your monthly obligations can easily leave you in the difficult position of having a child support obligation that you are simply unable to pay.