When a pair of parents get a divorce, they may be able to end the romantic relationship, but their parental responsibilities will continue for the rest of their lives. These responsibilities include visitation, child custody and child support.
Child support, in particular, is often a sticking point between divorced parents. The noncustodial parent may feel as though he or she doesn't have a large enough role in the child's life and, resentfully, refuses to send child support payments.
Parents considering this practice should consider the fact that the child support check is not for the benefit of the custodial parent - it's for the benefit of their child. Furthermore, the child support payments are not a gift that can be rescinded or discontinued. Child support is the child's right, and noncustodial parents are legally bound to make regular payments.
This doesn't always happen, however. Many Illinois parents are having significant trouble obtaining child support payments from noncustodial parents. Though parents have the right to take the other parent to court when this occurs, experts say this doesn't always solve the problem.
That's because the other parent might simply refuse to show up to court. If he or she is living out of the state, or even in another part of the state, it may be difficult or impossible to force them to meet their court date.
Law enforcement agencies in Illinois and across the country are reluctant to pursue and extradite child support debtors, even if there is a warrant out for an arrest. That's because an extradition requires more money and manpower than law enforcement agencies are willing to expend on such a minor charge. Issues of jurisdiction, then, get in the way of parents seeking to obtain child support for their children.
One Illinois mother, for example, knows exactly where her ex-husband is and knows how to contact him. He lives in Alaska, where he has the means to pay his $70,000 back child support. He refuses to pay, though, and Illinois judges have little ability to force him into the courtroom.
Unless there is some change in the way courts and law enforcement agencies handle child support debtors, this trend is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
The Chicago Tribune, "Child support challenges courts in Illinois" Lisa Black, Oct. 25, 2013