Fathers seeking child support during a divorce generally have the same rights as mothers would. Generally, Illinois laws on child support are gender neutral. In addition, the law in Illinois mandates that the incomes of both parents be considered when setting child support.

It could also be useful to know that many laws involving child support, and many other aspects of divorce law, changed recently in Illinois — and they continue to do so. When making decisions, it is always important to get the latest information and base your decisions on a specific analysis of your case. Please do not view anything in this article as specific legal advice.

Unmarried Fathers

Child support applications do not necessarily have to happen within the context of divorce. A father who was never married to his children’s mother could potentially receive some child support benefits after establishing parentage and, in most cases, successfully obtaining parenting time. Each of these steps may have challenges, but it is possible to receive child support – even if a marriage never happened. For more information on how support is calculated, see my January 10, 2019 Blog entitled “Calculating Net Income for Child Support in Illinois.”

Modifying Support Agreements

Fathers receiving child support may be able to petition the court to change the support agreement. This is typically appropriate if there has been a substantial change in circumstances of one of the parents, or if the child’s needs change in some way.

Examples might include a parent losing a job or gaining employment, or a child having increased or unexpected expenses. However, it could be more efficient for a father to attempt to work out a modification to the child support agreement directly with the mother before resorting to court intervention. If an agreement is reached, the parents could then present an agreed order made outside the courtroom to the judge for review. As long as the new terms for the support agreement were in the best interest of the child and acceptable under Illinois Law, a judge could probably make them official relatively quickly.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

In the case of mothers falling behind in their support obligations, fathers may have a variety of options available. Sometimes, a formal reminder is effective. In other cases, it may be necessary to take further action. For example, it may be necessary to seek the court’s assistance in getting a non-paying parent to live up to her obligation. In some cases, it’s possible to get assistance from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to officially implement enforcement proceedings.

Child support is meant to benefit children, regardless of the relationship they may have to their primary caregiver. The fundamental idea is children deserve the support they need to thrive. Please call me today at (312) 621-5234 to schedule an initial consultation.