Illinois Divorce and Family Law Weblog

Helping You and Your Family get through DivorceSM.
Weblog of DuPage County Attorney Raiford D. Palmer, focusing on divorce and family law.
(Copyright© 2005-2008 by Raiford D. Palmer. All rights reserved.) This blog is for advertising only and the contents are not legal advice.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Illinois Child Support - Court Order for Support Changes A Must

The only safe way to establish support, reduce it, cancel it, or increase it is to get a court order. Even if you and your ex have an agreement (and even if it is in writing) this is no guarantee that it will be binding later. We've heard of horror stories where one spouse agreed to accept no support for a period of time when the support payor lost a job, only to claim two years later that there was no agreement! Remember, interest piles up at 9% per year for each missed support payment!

Don't trust something so important to a verbal agreement or even a written one. Getting a court order (especially when the parties agree) is fairly easy to do, as long as you comply with the law. The Court will check to be sure you are not going below the legal minimums for support (20% of net income for one child for example) or that you have a valid reason to terminate (child reaches age 18).

This comes up often in cases of "abatement." The typical scenario is where the support payor loses a job and is looking for a new one. The payor and the ex agree that while the payor is looking for a job no support is due. The payor gets a job and resumes paying support. However, the law says in that case that support may be abated (basically paused) but that it continues to pile up. During this time the payor does not need to pay the support as normal, but resumes paying when back on the job. The thing a lot of people miss is 1) they don't get an order and 2) they think the missed payments are "forgiven." Not true. You still owe the money, you were just allowed to pay later.

Don't make the mistake of working under a verbal or even written agreement. The only thing truly binding is a Court order. Also, don't wait to get the order entered. The Court will not allow you to "go back" and terminate or abate retroactively. For example, if you waited a month after losing your job, and failed to pay during that month, the support is actually a missed payment and begins to accrue interest (and you are behind now on your support)! The date you file your motion to abate is the date the Court will use for retroactivity, even if it takes a month or two to enter the order. Another thing--most courts require preparation and filing of an income and expense affidavit when bringing any petition regarding money (child support, maintenance (alimony), etc.). Be sure to prepare the form (or have us do it) and provide the supporting documents (usually past three years of tax returns and a couple of current pay stubs will do it).

Please call 630.434.0400 to schedule your consultation about divorce or post-decree case with attorney Raiford Palmer. Or, email me.

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