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Child support enforcement in Illinois: the state role

When it comes to collecting child support, the gap between theory and practice can be gapingly large. In theory, of course, parents whose divorce agreements call for child support payments are supposed to make those payments. When a court approves a divorce settlement, the obligation to make the payments becomes a court order.

But in practice, problems with payment are all too common. In Illinois and across the country, parents with custody of kids who are supposed to receive child support payments often do not receive those payments.

What role does the state play in helping to make sure these payments are made? For one thing, through its Child Support Services division, the state has set up an electronic payment system. The Child Support Services division is part of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

The Healthcare and Family Services department also has a Division of Child Support Enforcement. This division can take various collection actions, such as taking the proceeds of state tax refunds.

By statute, the state also has the authority to disclose information about parents who are far behind in paying child support. "Deadbeat" is of course a term that is frequently tossed around loosely in this context. And indeed, the term is even used on state websites.

The state does not have a blank check, however, to publicize the amount of past-due support. By statute, past-due support is to be publicized only when it reaches the level of $5,000 or more.

In short, the state of Illinois does get involved in many child support enforcement cases. It provides resources, but it cannot immediately solve all problems, either.

Source: "Frequently Asked Questions," Illinois Child Support Services

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