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Illinois suburbs see rise in child support delinquencies

It seems U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is not the only suburbanite with child support problems. A Chicago-area newspaper recently looked at child support delinquencies around the state and found that suburban counties are faring worse than the rest of the state.

Here in Lake County, the number of cases in arrears grew from 6,756 in 2008 to 9,686 in 2010 -- a 43 percent increase. McHenry County outpaced this county by 23 percentage points, though there were many fewer cases. There, in 2008 almost 1,775 non-custodial parents were behind on support payments; by 2010, that number was up to 2,938, a 66 percent jump.

In Cook County, the number of cases increased slightly in 2009 but fell the following year. The increase from 2008 to 2010 was just over 1 percent, but the actual number of cases was considerably higher: 153,698 in 2008 and 155,321 in 2010.

The number of cases, of course, isn't the only story. The total dollar amount in arrears for Lake County increased 35 percent between 2008 and 2010. Statewide, the dollar figure remained about the same.

Analysts and family law attorneys attribute the suburbs' problems to the sagging economy. More non-custodial parents in the area are dealing with unemployment or underemployment.

It's important, too, to remember that the numbers reflect state-tracked cases. Parents who can afford a private attorney to enforce a child support order or to help with a support modification are not counted. Again, thanks to the sluggish economy, more parents are turning to the state for help.

State officials encourage people to work with the state to resolve support issues. The state has the resources and the authority to locate a parent who is behind on payments, to secure a court order and to enforce that order.

Non-custodial parents who are having trouble meeting their child support obligations may ask the court to modify the agreement.

Source: Daily Herald, "Delinquent child-support cases grow in suburbs," Mike Riopell and Kerry Lester, Nov. 28, 2011

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