Wage Garnishment and Child Support
NOTE: A new Illinois law governing how child support is calculated went into effect in July 2017. Please visit our child support page for details
The state of Illinois takes the obligation to ensure children are supported very seriously. As such, if you are divorced within the state and default on support payments, attorneys have many tools available to them to help collect unpaid child support arrearages. The most common method of doing so is wage garnishment, via your employer.
In Illinois, wage garnishment is used to enforce a variety of court orders, though child support is the most common. It is seen as the most reliable way to obtain money from a parent who owes child support. Under Illinois law, unpaid child support becomes a judgment as a matter of law after 30 days from the date it was due. As such, it is not necessary to go back to court in order to issue a separate wage garnishment for unpaid child support.
Garnishment is also often preferred because it can be handled almost exclusively by the employer. It lessens any potential inconvenience; no court hearings are required, nor any further interaction with the other spouse.
Special Regulations Regarding Child Support
It is important to keep in mind that child support, unlike many other debts for which your wages can be garnished, has a special status under Illinois law. It effectively cuts ahead in line, so to speak, ahead of any other debts you may owe. A ‘regular' debt, such as a medical bill or credit card debt can result in up to 15 percent of a paycheck being garnished, though certain income (such as Social Security payments) cannot be garnished to pay a debt of this kind.
However, in Illinois, a child support garnishment usually withholds 20 percent from a paycheck for one child (going up to 50 percent for six children or more), which is more than the 15 percent permitted for other debts. So, for example, if wages are garnished to pay a credit card debt, but a wage garnishment is issued for back child support payments, the credit card debt would effectively cease to be collected—the unpaid child support debt would take up the amount legally able to be withheld.
Seek Legal Assistance
If you are in a position where you are owed unpaid child support or your wages have been garnished for child support, it is a good idea to speak with a family law attorney. The dedicated Wheaton, Illinois family law attorneys at MKFM Law will help guide you to a solution that gives the best outcome possible for all. Contact us today at 630-665-7300, or use our web form to set up an appointment.