If the Supporting Parent is Unemployed, Can the Court Require That Person to Pay Child Support?

Yes. Simply becoming unemployed or being unemployed does not alleviate your duty and obligation to pay child support. However, the court can suspend your obligation for a period of months or weeks, to allow you the opportunity to find employment. The court can also order you to keep a job diary, whereby you have to come into court and show where you’ve gone, where you’ve applied, and what efforts you have made to get back in the work force.

The obligation to pay child support, the duty to pay child support is a serious obligation that the courts take very seriously. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are harsh penalties for failure to pay child support, which can include incarceration, loss of your liberty, loss of your driver’s license, and basically being convicted of a crime.

So, if you have an obligation to pay child support, you should do whatever you can to utilize the government agencies, the listings at the unemployment bureau, and your own efforts to find employment. The fact that you do not have employment does not take away your obligation to pay child support. However, the court might abate the support or suspend the support until such time that you become employed, but you are going to be obligated to come into court and show, to the court’s satisfaction, that you have made reasonable efforts to find employment, you’re doing everything you can to fulfill your child support obligation, and that you’re not trying to skirt your obligation to pay child support.

If you do find yourself on the bad end of a Rule to Show Cause, you probably want to seek counsel who can come in and give you some advice, and put up a defense, and show the court that you are trying to make efforts to pay child support. In many cases, non-paying fathers and mothers simply bury their head in the sand and refuse to come to court when they’re summonsed to do so. This can and often will lead to harsh penalties which can include being locked up for a weekend or a period of weeks, because you skirted your obligation to pay support, and more importantly, you were held in contempt for failure to appear pursuant to a court order.

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