Reeder & Brown, P.C.




When a maintenance or child support order is issued by an Illinois court, the paying party must make the ordered payments. If he or she fails to do so, serious consequences may apply. Whether you are the party who is supposed to be paying support or receiving it, you should understand the withholding and garnishment process and the steps you can take to address any issues that may affect the support you pay or receive. As you determine how to handle these matters, it is a good idea to work closely with an attorney who is experienced in these types of family law issues.

At Reeder & Brown, P.C. in Joliet, Illinois, our skilled lawyers have more than 30 years of combined legal experience. We have handled many complex support enforcement cases, and we are equipped to help you with yours. Our attorneys know that many individuals rely on support payments for both themselves and their children. With this in mind, we will do everything we can to compel compliance with existing support orders.

Understanding Income Withholding and Wage Garnishment in Illinois

There is often a great deal of confusion between the concepts of income withholding and wage garnishment. The two are very similar, but there are important differences, particularly when it comes to the collection of ordered child support or maintenance. Wage garnishment, in general, is a method of collecting a debt in situations where a legal judgment has been entered in favor of the creditor. The Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5) lays out the processes and limitations of wage garnishment for debt collection purposes in the state. When wage garnishment is deemed to be appropriate and necessary by the court, a designated amount is deducted from the debtor's paycheck by their employer and sent to the creditor. Wage garnishment is usually not the first option for collecting a debt, as it often requires a lengthy legal process to reach that point.

Income withholding, by comparison, is the most common method of collecting ordered support payments in Illinois. Support obligations are generally considered as expenses rather than as debts—at least as long as the paying party remains current on his or her payments—so income withholding is not technically considered wage garnishment. In the vast majority of cases, a support order is accompanied by an income withholding notice that is to be given to the paying party's employer. According to the Illinois Withholding for Support Act (750 ILCS 28), the notice will include the necessary case information and the dollar amount to be withheld by the employer and submitted to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (ISDU). In some cases, the parties may reach their own agreements regarding how the support will be paid, but the court reserves the right to issue a withholding notice if the paying party fails to comply.

Collecting Arrearages

If the paying party falls behind on support payments, the total amount of the missed payments are known as "arrears" or "arrearages." Arrearages are considered not only debts but also derogatory credit events that could affect a person's credit score. In most cases, arrearages are collected through income withholding. Depending on the circumstances, the withholding amount may be increased until the past-due amount has been paid, or withholding may continue after the end of the ordered support period until the arrearages are fully paid off.

When arrearages reach a certain threshold, other consequences are possible. For example, if you are over 90 days delinquent on payments, your driver's license could be suspended. If you are at least six months and $5,000 behind, you could face misdemeanor criminal charges for non-payment of support. Felony charges are possible for arrearages of over $20,000 that are over one year past-due.

Call a Will County Support Collection Attorney Today

To learn more about income withholding orders and support arrearages in Illinois, contact our office. Call 815-885-5980 for a free consultation and case analysis at Reeder & Brown, P.C. today. Our attorneys serve clients in Joliet, Naperville, Plainfield, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Mokena, Romeoville, Homer Glen, Lockport, New Lenox, Crest Hill, Will County, and the surrounding areas.

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