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What happens if a spouse refuses to pay child support?

In Illinois, the law provides potentially serious penalties and repercussions for failing to pay court-ordered child support. A child support order must be followed or else the person violating it may be subjected to a contempt proceeding. In addition to other penalties for contempt, people who fail to pay child support face other consequences.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act makes a number of consequences available to a judge when a parent refuses to pay child support. A person who is found to be in contempt can be incarcerated for up to six months, although the court may grant jail leave during the day to go to work or to operate a self-employed business.

The court may order the delinquent parent's employer to pay the parent's earnings towards child support during the parent's imprisonment until further order of the court. Self-employed parents can be ordered to provide monthly financial statements to the court as well, and may possibly be ordered to search for other employment if the business's income is not sufficient. When a parentis more than 90 days delinquent, the court can also suspend the his or her driver's license. Finally, the parent may be criminally prosecuted for failing to pay child support in addition to the consequences of contempt.

Failing to pay child support is treated with extreme seriousness. For people whose financial circumstances have changed since the court's child support order was issued, every effort should be made to continue paying support as ordered until and unless the order is modified through a post-dissolution proceeding. People who are owed back child support can file a motion for contempt against the other parent in order to get a hearing.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "(750 ILCS 5/505.1) (from Ch. 40, par. 505.1) ", October 14, 2014

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