Unmarried Parent Child Support
Parents have a responsibility to provide for their children and meet their basic needs. Illinois child support laws require that both parents accept this responsibility while their children are minors.
This financial responsibility is required no matter if the parents are married or unmarried. If you have children, you are legally required to financially support them, and the money you pay goes directly towards caring for those children.
Approximately 25 percent of parents living with a child are unmarried. These couples may be in a relationship, or they may not be. However, their legal role in their children’s lives remains the same regardless of their personal or physical relationships with each other. What happens when the relationship ends? How can unmarried parents get the financial support they need to properly care for their children?
In the state of Illinois, you can bring a child support petition in any county you live in. Typically, the court in the county where the child spends the majority of their time will hear the case. Illinois law allows for numerous parties to bring a child support petition in unmarried cases, including:
Mother of the child
Father of the child
Alleged father of the child
Alleged mother of the child
Support enforcement agency
You can even get a temporary child support order without having to prove parentage in many cases. According to Illinois Compiled Statutes 750 ILCS 46/801, the Illinois family court judge will determine if there is clear and convincing evidence required to issue this temporary support. The testimony of the birth mother is often sufficient evidence with the right legal representation. Paternity testing is an option as well, for any party who wishes to bring clear evidence of parentage.
Getting Child Support and Proving Parentage in Illinois
You can petition the court for child support at any time in the child’s life. To get a permanent child support order, you must serve the other parent with this petition. If they do not reply to the petition, the court automatically presumes them to be the parent.
Most parents happily accept the role of caregiver and provider for their children. However, sometimes this is not the case. If the father refuses to admit to being the parent, for example, an Illinois judge may meet with the parents and their lawyers to try and get the issue resolved quickly.
There may be an emotional, financial, or personal reason for refusing to admit to being the father. The judge and family law attorneys will attempt to unravel the components of the case to avoid messy hearings or costly DNA tests.
Yet, when all else fails, a DNA test will confirm who the biological father of the child is. These DNA tests can help unmarried parents determine who is truly responsible for the child, and the financial obligations that come with being a parent.
How Much is Child Support for Unmarried Parents?
Sections 505 and 505.2 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and 750 ILCS 46/801 determine how to properly calculate child support in unmarried cases. These child support calculations are the same that married parents must use. Being married or unmarried does not affect your obligations to provide for your children.
Child support is based on each parent’s income and on the number of overnights the children spend with each parent. Calculating child support under Illinois child support laws is not easy, and is best done by an experienced and skilled Illinois child support attorney. Your attorney can help you determine the true amount of child support you must pay or receive in order to properly care for your children.
You can ask for child support to be backdated to the date of birth unless the parents were living together, or unless the father was not aware he had a child. The courts do consider prior knowledge key to when child support should begin.
That prevents messy support situations from arising, such as fathers learning about their child at 17 years old and getting a bill for 17 years of child support at the same time. Per 750 ILCS 42/86(e)(2),“the prior knowledge of the person obligated to pay support of the fact and circumstances of the child’s birth.”
In addition to child support, both parents are required by law to pay their share of child care, daycare, or babysitters based on their percentage of income. For example, if one parent makes $70,000 a year and the other makes $30,000 a year, they would likely split childcare expenses 70/30.
When the court issues a child support order, both parents must abide by this order. In Illinois, the Illinois State Disbursement Unit is an agency that collects child support from one parent and distributes it to the other. They keep track of all payments made and received. This helps in case there is a dispute later down the road.
What Can Unmarried Parents Do If Child Support Is Not Paid?
If child support is not paid, the payor parent can face serious legal consequences. The parent seeking support payments can file a motion with the courts to enforce the payment of support. They can also get an arrearage judgment, which means the account accrues interest the longer support is not paid.
If the parent continues to fail making support payments, the family law courts in Illinois can put the delinquent parent in jail. Child support payments are considered serious and must be made regardless of your personal situation.
If you are unable to meet your child support obligations, it is important to discuss your financial situation with a family law attorney. Your attorney may be able to petition the courts to modify an existing child support agreement,
Contact Manassa Law, P.C.
Our family law firm has the experience and resources to help unmarried parents navigate the complex Illinois child support laws. We know that being unmarried can create different obstacles and complications. That is why we work with you to identify those obstacles and chart a better course for you and your children.
Contact Manassa Law, P.C. today for a free consultation with one of our Barrington family law attorneys, where we can answer your questions about child support in Illinois. We take our attorney-client relationships seriously and want to be there for you every step of the way. Call our office to schedule an initial consultation and review.
Our law office is located in Barrington, Illinois. We also serve clients in Chicago, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows, Barrington Hills, Palatine, Schaumburg, Elgin, Buffalo Grove, Lakewood, Cook County, Lake County, McHenry County, DuPage County, Kane County, and the surrounding communities.