If you’re a single parent owed thousands of dollars in child support, you’re not alone. Deadbeat dads are evading authorities across the St. Louis metro. Stand up for yourself and your children and go after him! (There are deadbeat moms, too. We are using dads/he/him for this post.)
Both Illinois and Missouri have robust child support systems and you do not need an attorney to get the money you are due. In Illinois, the Department of Healthcare and Families Services’ Division of Child Support Services will help you get a child support order, collect payments, collect overdue payments, and more. The Missouri Department of Social Services Child Support program provides the same services. In most cases, you can get help without leaving home either online or on the phone.
However, having an attorney represent you in your child support case probably will get your case through the system more quickly and ensure the best results for your family.
Child Support Laws
The law is on your side if you are not receiving the child support you are owed. Two federal laws underpin child support enforcement at the state level.
- The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 made it a federal crime for parents to get $5,000 or more behind in child support payments and move to another state. This is a misdemeanor often punishable by the individual’s wages being garnished until their debt is paid off.
- The U.S. Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 mandates felony charges against parents who move to another state, or country, and are $5,000 or more behind in child support. The deadbeat parents can be sent to prison for their crime.
- In Illinois, delinquent parents may be fined and even sent to jail. A parent who is 90 days behind or more will lose his driver’s license for 60 days or until he pays up, whichever comes first.
- In Missouri, a deadbeat dad can lose his driver’s licenses, professional license, and hunting and fishing licenses. The state will pursue criminal charges if he doesn’t pay child support for six months within a twelve-month period or owes $5,000 or more.
Filing for Child Support
When you separate you will want child support as soon as possible, so take advantage of the opportunity to request it during your legal separation proceedings. If you don’t do that, you may request child support during your divorce or custody proceedings.
In both Illinois and Missouri, you can ask for a modification of the child support amount every three years. A judge will consider a modification if you have new expenses related to your children or the parent paying support has a significant increase in income.
Who is Eligible for Child Support?
- Divorced parents. Both parents’ incomes and the time they spend with the children are taken into account, as well as expenses like childcare, when calculating child support, You can use this tool to estimate the amount you should be receiving in Illinois, and this tool in Missouri.
- Unmarried parents. If you were not married to the father of your child, you are eligible for child support, too. If he says he is not the father, the state child support office will perform paternity testing. Establishing paternity and enforcing child support orders is in the best interest of the children and the states, because parents receiving child support are less likely to need financial assistance.
- Abandoned parents. If you have lived through your partner abandoning you and your child, know that you have support in tracking him down so that you may receive child support.
Give us a call at 618-288-9591 if you would like help getting or collecting child support. We will have your family’s best interest in mind.