government shutdown and child support

Does the Government Shutdown Affect Paying Child Support?


You can’t read a newspaper or watch the news without hearing about the current government shutdown and the over 800,000 Federal employees who are missing paychecks. Most of the articles focus on Congress or the President and who will budge in this stand-off. The articles that focus on the federal employees look at the impact of going without a paycheck and ask how the employees will pay rent or mortgage, electric bills, or credit cards. However, there is another bill that many parents are worried about: child support.

Child support awards are governed by the states and not the federal government. This means each state has its own child support guidelines and ways of dealing with past-due child support.

Illinois Child Support Payment Rules and the Government Shutdown

In Illinois, the non-custodial parent owes a duty of support to their children. This means even in the case of a government shutdown, an Illinois parent still has a duty to pay child support. Typically, child support is ordered through a Uniform Support Order. Most of the time, these orders require support to be paid on a certain day of the month. If support is late, a late fee or interest could apply. That is why it is best to try to pay the child support on time if at all possible.

Options When You Cannot Pay Child Support

If you cannot pay the child support, you must figure out what your options are. The first thing you should do is make sure you notify the custodial parent in writing that you will be missing a paycheck while the government is shut down. If you reach out to the other parent, you may be able to work out an agreement to delay the support payments until you get your paycheck. Any agreements should be reviewed by an attorney to make sure they will be upheld by the Court.

Child Support Order Modification

Another option is child support modification. Illinois allows for modification of child support order under 750 ILCS 5/510. In order to modify child support, the Court must find that there was a substantial change in circumstances. While losing a job can constitute a substantial change in circumstances, the failure to receive paychecks due to a government shutdown may not constitute a substantial change. Modifying a child support order due to such a change would be up to the individual judge.

Abate Child Support for a Period of Time

When you request a modification, you can also ask the judge in the alternative, to abate your child support for the period you are not receiving a paycheck. A judge may be more likely to abate the child support payment for a short period of time than modify the child support order when the situation impeding the ability to pay the support is seen as only temporary.

The right thing to do will vary depending on the individual circumstances. If you find yourself without a paycheck due to the current government shutdown (or other reason), it is best to reach out to an experienced child support attorney who can guide you through this difficult time.

Feel free to contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation. Our team of experienced and top-rated family law and divorce attorneys will help you make the right choices about child support if you are affected by the current government shutdown.

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