Deadbeat Dad Laws in Illinois

By Victoria Bailey - Updated August 15, 2018

Parents are financially responsible for their kids, whether they have custody or not. In Illinois, as in other states, a family court determines how much money a non-custodial parent needs to pay each month for child support. Those parents who fall behind in payments are called delinquent parents or, more colloquially, deadbeat dads or parents. Traditionally, women kept custody in the majority of cases, leaving the fathers to pay child support most of the time, but today, Illinois courts deal with deadbeat moms falling behind on their child support payments as well as deadbeat dads. Illinois has a wide range of remedies for collecting this money for the custodial parent, from shaming to serious legal consequences.

Shaming for Illinois Deadbeat Parents

Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services maintains a website that publishes the names and faces of all deadbeat parents who owe at least $5,000 in back child support payments. The social consequences of this website can be far-reaching. Prospective employers are free to search the site in search of applicants trying to get a job with their company. In many cases, business owners would rather avoid hiring someone with legal problems that can lead to trouble on the job, so their presence on the site can make it difficult for parents to get a job.

The delinquent parents' website can also have an effect on the deadbeat's social life. In this age of internet searches for prospective dating partners, having a profile on a delinquent parent website can ruin someone's chances for finding a relationship. Being on the site can make it difficult enough that it acts as a motivation to some parents to begin repaying their back child support.

Deadbeat Dad Law Affects Driving Licenses

The Family Financial Responsibility Act in Illinois allows the Circuit Court to request that the Secretary of State suspend a delinquent parent's license if he is more than 90 days in arrears. The parent has a right to a hearing within the next 60 days after being informed of the suspension. The license will stay suspended until the Secretary of State has been informed that the parent has met the court's requirements in catching up with back payments.

Other Legal Consequences of Child Support Non-Payment

In Illinois, deadbeat parents are subject to a long list of other possible consequences if they fall behind in their child support payments. Among them are:

  • The debt can be added to the parent's credit report
  • The past due amount can be reported to a collection agency
  • The state can place a lien against real estate or other property owned by the non-custodial parent
  • The parent can lose hunting and fishing licenses, professional licenses or occupational certificates
  • The non-custodial parent's passport can be suspended, or she may be denied a passport application
  • The state can intercept the parent's state and federal income tax refund

In certain circumstances, the state can even request state or criminal prosecution for non-payment of child support if the case continues. If non-payment continues for more than six months or exceeds $5,000, and it's deemed willful and without a legal excuse, the punishment can be up to a year in jail and/or $2,500. Parents who owe over $20,000 can be charged with a Class 4 felony and punished with one to three years in prison.

About the Author

Victoria Bailey has a degree in Public Law and Government. She has spoken before state Supreme Court justices and her photograph is on the back cover of Bill Clinton's autobiography. As a former member of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Bailey worked closely with lawmakers to help set public policy. Bailey's work appears on numerous websites, and she's currently writing the text for a governmental information app.

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