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Child support and garnishment: when the debtor is self-employed

When we last posted about child support, on August 15, the post was about the new Illinois law that allows for the garnishment of gambling winnings. But figuratively speaking, it would be fair to say that virtually every case of trying to collect child support can become a gamble.

It can become a gamble because circumstances so often seem to conspire against smooth receipt of the promised amount. For example, an ex-spouse who is supposed to pay child support may lose a job. And the resulting job loss may make payment of the ordered amount problematic.

There are also of course cases where ex-spouses simply refuse to pay. And there are cases that raise somewhat novel legal issues. We will discuss one such case in this post.

The case involves an ex-wife who has been trying to recover unpaid child support from her independent-contractor ex-husband through his main client.

Under Illinois law, employers are supposed to garnish an employee's paycheck to pay child support when served with an appropriate withholding order.

In this case, the ex-husband is a chiropractor who is self-employed, but receives the bulk of his income from reimbursements made for his patients by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

For five years, the chiropractor's ex-wife has been trying to get Blue Cross to comply with a withholding order so that she can collect child support. She contends that Blue Cross meets the definition of "payor" under the state's child support garnishment law.

The case has been in litigation for several years. But the most recent court ruling was in favor of the ex-wife, who has already waited five years for the case of unpaid child support to be resolved.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Woman battling Blue Cross over child support," Lisa Black, September 1, 2013

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