The Chicago Family Law Blog

Child Support in Chicago

Similar to alimony, child support is intended to protect children from the financial inequities that often come with divorce. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent in order to help with the financial responsibilities of raising a child; but in some rare instances, both parents pay child support to a third party who is raising that child. Even though child support is paid to the custodial parent, it is legally considered as belonging to the child. Unfortunately not everyone pays their owed child support, so the state of Illinois has several programs in place (including a Deadbeat Parents website) to encourage compliance.

Child support is calculated by considering the needs of the child, the income of the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay and the child’s standard of living prior to the divorce. Chicago family law attorneys are trained to help parents receive the appropriate level of support for their child.

Recently in Child Support Category

Chicago father and suspected deadbeat Ronald "Boobie" McIntyre broke both legs after jumping from a third-story window after the Cook County sheriff's officers tried to arrest him for unpaid child support, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

The 35-year-old father owes $5,979.66 in court-ordered support for his children, according to police. He also has been arrested 14 times and has 80 unrelated criminal convictions, according to court records. So while his Illinois family law attorney may try to help give him some wiggle room, his chances at leniency by a family court judge don't look good.

Cook County Sheriff's Unit Targets Deadbeat Parents

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As reported by CBS News Chicago, a relatively new squad of Chicago-area police officers known as the Cook County Sheriff's Child Support Enforcement Unit specifically tracks down and often arrests child support scofflaws.

Sometimes even the most favorable child support order brokered by the most skilled divorce attorney in Chicago isn't enough. The state's Dept. of Child Support Services often can help by garnishing wages or other methods.

Man Jailed For Not Paying Child Support Learns Gardening

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Although it's tough to root for a father who was so delinquent in his child support payments that he was sentenced to six months in jail, the New York Times story of deadbeat Chicago dad-turned-master gardener Adolf Jerger is inspiring.

He entered the Cook County Jail in February and is scheduled for release in August. While Chicago family law attorneys would advise their clients to do everything in their power to pay court-ordered child support, it's nice to know that even jail can offer something positive.   

Adolf Jerger is on his way to earning his master gardener certificate, along with 21 other inmates. The Chicago-area jail has offered training courses in horticulture, gardening and landscaping to nonviolent offenders for nearly 20 years; more than 200 inmates have completed the program.

Actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson tells a much different story than his ex-girlfriend, Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva, as the former couple argues over child support and abuse allegations. Mel Gibson and Oksana have a young daughter together.

The Russian beauty says the 54-year-old actor physically abused her and has not paid any child support for their 9-month-old daughter, as reported by the New York Daily News. Mel Gibson, on the other hand, said her claims have no merit. Chicago family law attorneys would say that the truth usually comes out during the discovery process of civil trials.

License Suspension Nets $100 Million In Child Support

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If the thought of your son or daughter not having a new pair shoes to start the school year isn't enough to make you send the child support check, perhaps a hold on your driver's license will. That may be the sad reality behind the success of an Illinois program that suspends deadbeat parents' driving privileges, as covered by the Chicago Tribune.

The good news, obviously, is that it seems to be working.

Since its implementation in 2008 as a partnership between the Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services and the Secretary of State's office, officials have secured more than $100 million in past due child support payments. DHFS sends warning letters to delinquent parents who also have a driver's license.

Egg-Throwing Dad Ordered To Find Job, Pay Child Support

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Remember the recent story about Naperville dad Agim Demiri, covered by this blog, who was found in contempt of court for lobbing a couple of raw eggs at a DuPage County family court judge? Well, the Chicago Daily Herald has an update of his case.

Mr. Demiri reportedly spent seven days in county jail for the egg-hurling incident, even though the yolk-filled missiles failed to hit Judge Timothy J. McJoynt. The article reported that Judge McJoynt declined to press battery charges, but how would such a charge hold up in court if he wasn't actually battered?

Regardless, a shackeled and presumably eggless Mr. Demiri appeared before Judge McJoynt after serving a weeklong jail sentence. 

Man Allegedly Throws Eggs At Judge In Child Support Case

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Instances of otherwise mature adults letting their emotions get out of control in family court are likely fairly common. To wit, the Chicago Daily Herald reported about a father who was arrested on charges that he threw two raw eggs at a DuPage County judge. 

No one was hurt when 40-year-old Naperville dad Agim Demiri allegedly hurled an egg at Judge Timothy J. McJoynt that "narrowly missed" him; a second thrown egg landing nearby. Deputies arrested Mr. Demiri, who did not resist and he later apologized for his outburst.

Judge McJoynt did not pursue assault and battery charges, but found him in contempt of court and ordered him to serve seven days in jail. No mention was made of an Illinois family lawyer, who no doubt would have advised against throwing the eggs.

Child Support: Actor Jude Law Takes Care Of Business

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New York Daily News reported that British actor Jude Law finally met his six-month-old daughter Sophia, now six months old, for the first time. He also delivered the details of his child support and visitation arrangements with Sophia and her mother, model Samantha Burke.

Mr. Law's attorney drafted an agreement that entitles Ms. Burke to roughly $5,000 per month in child support. The agreement also outlines his visitation rights, according to an unnamed friend of Ms. Burke quoted by the paper:

"His visit was fleeting and seemed mainly businesslike. Jude will visit his daughter at least twice a year, once around Christmas."

Mr. Law met Ms. Burke in 2008 when he was filming "Sherlock Holmes" in Manhattan and the two engaged in a short-lived fling. Mr. Law has three other children from a previous marriage. It seems as if Mr. Law opted to share more of his money with his new daughter than his time, if Ms. Burke's friend is right about the visitation agreement.

But what about unmarried Chicago parents who are not movie stars?

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act: A Primer

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A federal law that's been on the books for nearly 12 years makes it a crime to cross state lines in an attempt to avoid paying child support, as a 1998 CNN article explains. The so-called Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DPPA) makes the offense a felony under federal law.

Parents who regularly worry whether or not their ex (or former partner) will pay child support have little to lose by contacting an Illinois family lawyer, many of whom provide free initial consultations. But if it exceeds the threshold of the DPPA, it becomes a criminal matter as well. 

Parents owing $10,000 or more in payments or who haven't paid support in more than two years can face up to two years in prison if convicted. If a parent is more than one year or more than $5,000 behind in payments, the offender faces misdemeanor charges.

Cohen Debacle Exposes Broader Child Support Issues

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Illinois residents who weren't hiding under a rock for the past month know all about disgraced Lt. governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen, who the Chicago Sun-Times says spent $2 million dollars on his campaign despite owing his ex-wife $54,000 in child support. Reporters digging into his divorce files found numerous other outrageous claims as well.

But Mr. Cohen's delinquency in paying child support for on behalf of his four children raises an important question: How did he get so far in his campaign (i.e. he won) while thumbing his nose at the state laws he purportedly was prepared to enforce as Lt. governor?

That's the question Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell attempted to answer, even questioning her fellow journalists' integrity:

Now that the Scott Lee Cohen debacle is over, voters have every right to be disgusted. Not only did the media drop the ball by not digging deep enough into Cohen's past, but we didn't even follow the money.