Residents of Illinois are losing their jobs at an alarming rate. In fact, new unemployment filings have hit record levels. If you have lost your job, you may not have the financial ability to pay your monthly bills, including child support. Nonetheless, if you have an existing support order, you must comply with it. After all, failing to pay child support has significant consequences in the Land of Lincoln.
If you cannot keep up with your child support obligations, you may have some options. Illinois law allows either co-parent to seek a modification of the support order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
Identifying a change in circumstances
To determine if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, judges weigh the alleged change with the interests of the child and the parents. While the judge enjoys broad discretion in determining if a change of circumstances exists, the following situations often qualify:
- A decrease in the paying parent’s ability to pay
- An increase in the receiving parent’s income
- A change in the child’s needs
- A change in custody or parenting time
Understanding your obligations
If you have a substantial change in circumstances, you want to act quickly to pursue a modification of your child support order. That is, judges do not have the authority to retroactively modify child support. Therefore, you are probably on the hook for the full amount of child support until a judge agrees to modify your obligation. The same is true if you are appealing a judge’s decision. Finally, you cannot take matters into your own hands. Even if a co-parent does something to make you believe you do not need to pay, your obligation continues until a judge modifies it.
The current economic climate may have you struggling to pay your child support. Fortunately, if you have a substantial change in circumstances, such as a loss of income, you may be eligible for some relief. Nevertheless, by understanding your legal obligations, you can make a smart financial decision.