Chasing down non-custodial parents who are delinquent on their child support payments keeps a lot of lawyers, social services investigators and court officers very busy. As the old adage goes, you can run but you can’t hide. Excuses offered for failing to pay child support range from the highly creative to just plain stupid. What’s more, they never work in the end, at least not in Illinois.
A common tactic is for the debtor to deliberately quit his or her job so there is no income and thus no money to pay for child support. The problem is, while the parent in arrears is sitting unemployed, the meter keeps ticking on the overdue payments and penalties. Sooner or later the state will pull the deadbeat parent’s driver’s license and the federal government will invalidate the parent’s passport. The federal government will also intercept any tax refunds due, and people in arrears with child support are not eligible for most federal grants and assistance.
Another reason not to ignore those overdue payments is the family court. Judges tend to be unforgiving of non-custodial parents who make themselves indigent simply to avoid paying child support. There is no statute of limitations on those payments. Even after the child turns 18, the full amount plus penalties are due and owing. Some former deadbeats who go back to work face decades of court-ordered garnishments on their wages. Judges will generally give debtors a break if the job loss happened legitimately and the non-custodial parent is working hard to get a new one. However, people who work off the books for cash risk big tax problems if that information ever comes out in court, not to mention the judge’s wrath.
Finally, there is the matter of setting a good example for the children involved. For some, that doesn’t matter much but for those who care about being seen as a role model, running away from a legal and moral responsibility doesn’t send a very positive message. Expert family law attorneys will tell you – it is possible to elude the system for a while, but impossible to elude it forever. People in trouble with child support payments need to get legal representation and start untangling the web they have woven.
Source: ChicagoNow.com, “Some of the dumbest people around,” Aug. 8, 2012