What are my options if I can’t pay child support?

Providing children with financial security and stability is important, and most Illinois parents do their best to do just that. For divorced parents, part of creating a financially stable life is by either paying or receiving child support. But what happens when one parent is no longer able to make his or her monthly payments? This can be a very scary situation, but there are options to make things work.

When someone no longer has the financial resources to meet his or her obligations, it is a good idea to request a modification of the support order. There are two ways in which a parent might get a modification. If a child support order was issued by the court, then it can only be modified through the judicial process. This means that the court would have to approve the request, although it will only do so if the parent has some kind of substantial change in his or her circumstances. For example, he or she might have unexpectedly lost a job.

An administrative child support order does not have to go through the court system and is instead handled by the Division of Child Support Services — DCSS. DCSS will only review modification requests if certain conditions are met, the first being a substantial change in the parent’s income. Another state or either parent can also submit a written request for a review, although at least three years must have passed if DCSS reviewed the order in the past.

Life is unpredictable, and even a parent who is working in a stable, well-paying career can face unexpected changes. Modifying a child support order can be key to making sure that this parent can still provide for his or her children. But securing a modification relies on being able to demonstrate a legitimate need, so some parents find it helpful to speak with an experienced attorney who understands Illinois family law.

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