Today, if a party does not pay child support and is found to be in arrears, interest is automatically awarded via statute. However, prior to an Illinois Supreme Court ruling in 2011, child support interest was not considered mandatory. Rather, Illinois Courts had the discretion to award interest on back child support, but were not required to award child support. On May 1, 1987, the Illinois General Assembly enacted Public Act 85-2, which amended the law to state that child support judgments shall bear interest. Although the law was changed in 1987, for several years there was some confusion on whether the law made interest mandatory as of 1987, or if it remained discretionary as before. This was clarified when the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled in Ill. Dep’t of Healthcare v. Wiszowaty that the imposition of interest on unpaid child support became mandatory on May 1, 1987 when Public Act 85-2 was enacted. Prior to May 1, 1987, the imposition of interest on unpaid child support was discretionary.
Public Act 85-2 amended the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to state that all support orders shall be deemed to be a series of judgments against the person obligated to pay support. The Act further amended the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure to state that “every judgment arising by operation of law from a child support order shall bear interest as provided in Section 2–1303 commencing 30 days from the effective date of each judgment.” Under Section 2-1303 of the Illinois Code or Civil Procedure, interest on child support is calculated at a rate of “9% per annum” from the date of the judgment until satisfied. As a result, child support begins to accrue interest 30 days after it is due. This essentially gives the party owing the child support a thirty day grace period to pay the support without accruing any interest. The interest is then calculated at “9% per annum” by taking one-twelfth of the 9% of the total back child support. This calculation can be very complex and is not something one should try on their own unless they are well versed in the law. If you feel that you are owed back child support plus interest, please feel free to contact our office for a consultation.