We are picking up the discussion from our Nov. 14 post. The subject is nonpayment of child support here in Illinois. The state Department of Healthcare and Family Services has been doing a better job of collecting and disbursing support payments from recalcitrant noncustodial parents, but "better" means moving from collecting 55 percent of what was owed in 2008 to collecting 58 percent in 2012 -- and those percentages only represent cases handled by the department. That leaves a lot of families without the income they need to make ends meet.
Collecting child support is a challenge across the country, but it seems to be particularly difficult here in Illinois. Noncustodial parents ignore court orders, even with the threat of jail. Failure to pay can also cost an Illinois parent his driver's license, his passport, his federal tax refund -- even hunting privileges. The state can put a lien against the parent's home or other property. There are consequences.
Well, said one Lake County woman who is beyond frustrated with the process, there are consequences in theory. In practice, not so much.
It should be no surprise that the hardest child support cases to enforce involve parents -- usually fathers -- who are hard to track down. They have no permanent address, moving around from place to place; some may be in jail. They change jobs frequently. Some just disappear.
One Lake County judge saw that putting a parent in jail or taking away driving privileges will likely have an impact on his earnings. He saw "repeat offenders," too -- parents who failed to pay often developed a pattern of nonpayment followed by jail. The state would spend money on enforcement that would reap little or nothing for the child or children.
He came up with a solution -- which we will discuss in our next post.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Child support challenges courts in Illinois," Lisa Black, Oct. 25, 2013