Child support enforcement comes in a variety of forms. The most serious form of child support enforcement usually comes from the Judge in child support court. However, there are multiple tools for enforcement that are administratively applied. In other words, there are only two general sources of child support enforcement: enforcement through the Courts and enforcement through administrative agencies of state government. This article addresses the spectrum of child support enforcement, the tools available to those in need, and the source of such methods of enforcement.
How to Enforce Child Support
Establishing Paternity: One of the first steps in enforcing child support is establishing paternity so that child support can be determined. After the legal and biological relationship between a child and their alleged father is adjudicated, child support can be calculated.
Child Support Orders: Child support orders must first be obtained before you can enforce child support by law. These orders outline the financial obligations of non-custodial parents, including the amount to be paid and the schedule of payments. Typically, all child support payments are ordered to be made through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (SDU).
Income Withholding: Income withholding orders are utilized to collect support directly from non-custodial parents’ paychecks. Income withholding orders are not required to be signed by a judge. The income withholding order is also referred to as a notice to withhold, because the document requires the employer of the non-custodial parent to withhold the child support from the parent’s paycheck. This method ensures regular and timely payments, reducing the risk of delinquency.
Tax Refund Intercept: The Court as well as child support enforcement agencies have the authority to intercept the tax refunds of non-custodial parents who owe support. These intercepted funds are then directed to custodial parents to fulfill their support obligations.
Driver’s License Suspension: In cases of chronic non-payment, the driver’s licenses of non-custodial parents can be suspended, incentivizing them to meet their financial responsibilities to regain their driving privileges.
Professional License Suspension: Various professional licenses can also be suspended, such as those for healthcare practitioners or contractors, when support obligations go unmet.
- Recreational License Suspension: In many instances, hunting and fishing licenses and other recreational licenses can be suspended when a person obligated to pay child support is non-compliant with their child support obligation.
Credit Reporting: In some cases, delinquent support payments can be reported to credit bureaus, potentially affecting the credit scores of non-custodial parents.
The Importance of HFS in Child Support Enforcement
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) is a state government agency that helps facilitate and enforce child support within the state. With its dedicated Child Support Services division, HFS plays a vital role in ensuring that children receive the financial support they need and deserve. There are many reasons why every state in the United States provides child support enforcement services through the various state agencies.
The state’s role in enforcing support is important for several reasons:
Child Welfare: Ensuring that non-custodial parents meet their financial obligations benefits the welfare and wellbeing of all of the children involved. Child support payments provide the necessary care that is financially required to raise healthy children, including basic necessities, education, and healthcare.
Reducing Financial Burden: Providing child support enforcement mechanisms alleviates the financial burden on custodial parents, often single parents, who need assistance in providing for their children. This reduces poverty, makes for a greater quality of life, and also provides greater access to education and healthcare for children throughout the state.
Minimizing Legal Disputes: By overseeing the enforcement process, having state agencies provide assistance means that disputes and conflicts between parents are reduced. The agencies of the state can appear to advocate for the parent receiving child support, however, they are actually advocating for the children who need and deserve that child support.
Government Resources: Enforcing support reduces the reliance on government-funded support programs and helps ensure the financial responsibility is borne by non-custodial parents rather than by the taxpayers. Although it is not always the case, the parents that receive help from the state with child support enforcement are parents that are receiving LINK benefits, SNAP program benefits, or other government aid.
Legal Compliance: Providing assurance that child support orders are legally enforced and that the child support payments that are required are actually made provides a multitude of benefits, including that it helps uphold the integrity of the Illinois legal system and promotes accountability. There is a fundamental responsibility and basic decency that all parents provide for the financial needs of their children.
Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, through its Child Support division, plays a pivotal role in facilitating and enforcing child support. HFS and private attorneys both provide greater financial security for children by establishing paternity, obtaining support orders, and using various enforcement methods that make the child support system more effective and more reliable. An effective child support system has a significant and positive impacts on the well-being and the future prospects of families, promote financial stability, and reducing the risks of poverty for custodial parents as well as their children.