How Long Can You Sue for Back Child Support?

Child Support

Receiving sufficient child support is vital to the best interests of the child, so the courts are sympathetic to parents who are having problems receiving what is owed to them. If you want to know how long you can sue for back child support, our team can help. The laws are complicated, and it is difficult to navigate the system on your own. If you are having difficulty collecting child support owed by an ex-spouse, you need a skilled child support attorney to help make the laws work in your favor to pursue the parent who is not paying what they owe.

The Illinois Code of Civil Procedure 735 ILCS 5/12-108(a)  was amended in 1997 to state, “child support judgments, including those arising by operation of law, may be enforced at any time.” Before this amendment, courts had applied the 20-year statute of limitations set forth in Section 13-218 of the Code to child support judgments, so that you could not revive and collect back child support after 20 years after the judgment.  But since the amendment, there is no time limit for collecting back child support, even if many years have gone by.

Our team at Wolfe & Stec will investigate your individual situation and find legal means to get support payments for your children. We handle all necessary paperwork, negotiations, and court appearances. We take the burden off you so you can concentrate on taking care of your children and going on with your life.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual child support situation and show you how we can help.

Can You Sue for Child Support Years Later?

Our Attorneys Can Bring a Case for Back Child Support Even After Many Years Have Gone By

It pays to sue for back child support, even after many years have passed. Illinois laws favor the parent who has not been receiving court-ordered support.

Not only can you receive the amount originally owed to you, you can be awarded interest which keeps accruing on any amount in arrears.

Illinois law states that the court may order either or both parents who have a duty to support a child to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for support. The duty of support owed to a child includes the obligation to provide for the reasonable and necessary physical, mental and emotional health needs.

Therefore, Illinois child support policies are set up to make it as easy as possible to enforce and as difficult as possible for the obligated parent (“obligor”) to avoid. Failed payments gather interest at a rate of 9% per annum. If payments are missed, they continue to be due until they are paid, along with any accrued interest, no matter how much time passes after the time that the payment became due. Parents may be held accountable for child support obligations even after their children become adults, and they may owe interest in addition to the amount of past-due payments.

There Are Penalties for Not Paying Child Support

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services is responsible for establishing child support guidelines that reflect the percentage of combined net income that parents living in the same household ordinarily spend on their child. The method used to set the amount of child support is based on both parents’ net income and the number of children included in the child support.  Support is payable on a monthly, semi-monthly, bi-weekly or weekly basis, depending on the non-custodial parent’s pay schedule. Child support must be paid until the youngest (or only) child reaches the age of 18 years, or it can be extended until the child graduates from high school or attains the age of 19, whichever comes first. If past-due support is owed at this time of emancipation, the amount that had been paid for current support may be extended until the past-due amount is paid off.

Parents who have a change in circumstances and feel they can no longer pay the original court-ordered child support amount can go back to court and attempt to modify the child support order. However, past-due child support payments from before the modification will still be owed. Stopping payment or attempts to evade child support collections can result in harsh penalties.

To discourage non-payment, the courts can find a parent who does not pay child support in contempt of court. According to 750 ILCS 5/505, penalties and punishments can include collection of tax refunds, liens on property, wage garnishment, denial of a passport, etc., and can result in the revocation of a professional or driver’s license. In cases where a parent is 90 days or more delinquent in payment of support, the parent’s Illinois driving privileges can be suspended until the court determines that the parent is in compliance with the order of support.

In addition, a non-paying parent could face fines and jail time, which can increase depending on the amount and duration of the non-payment. Failing to pay child support for six months or owing more than $5,000 can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. If more than $20,000 in child support is past due, it can be a Class 4 felony charge, bringing possible incarceration for up to three years.

Can a Child Sue a Parent for Back Child Support?

Generally, an adult child cannot file a lawsuit against their parent for unpaid child support. However, there are some other ways in which an adult child may be able to sue for back payments.

An adult child may be able to sue a non-custodial parent for owed back child support if the adult child is the executor or representative of their custodial parent’s estate. Child support that is in arrears can be either assigned or unassigned. If payments are assigned, they must be paid to the state if the state paid for any of the missing child support payments, such as if the custodial parent is on public assistance because of the lack of support payments. In this case, the state must be repaid before payments are made to the custodial parent.

If payments are unassigned, child support in arrears must be paid back to the custodial parent, who covered the missing amounts. In this case, the custodial parent can sue the non-custodial parent, or the adult child representing the estate of the custodial parent can sue for back child support.

Call Us for Help with Child-Support Issues

There is no statute of limitations for suing for child support in Illinois, so you can generally bring a child support lawsuit at any time.

While it may help to know how long you can sue for child support in Illinois, it’s important to also know you can get help. If your ex has not been paying required child support, you do not have to fight to get this money alone. There is legal help available from a child support lawyer. Our skilled attorneys at Wolfe & Stec know that the courts want to protect the well-being of children. We can make the laws work in your favor to pursue parents who are not paying what they should.

Our attorney knows how to sift through statutes and case law to find the right court rulings to support your arguments for child support. We know the ins and outs of legal processes, as well as the personalities of judges, opposing attorneys and courthouse staff.

When you hire a child support attorney at Wolfe & Stec, we can help by:

  • Gathering information about your individual child support situation
  • Looking for recent case law and existing statues that may work in your favor and help you achieve your desired outcome. 
  • Crafting convincing arguments to get the judge to enforce already-existing orders for child support or to order additional or increased financial support
  • Filing legal briefs on your behalf and arguing in front of a judge if necessary
  • Keeping you informed about all case developments
  • Being there with you during court hearings and any negotiations with opposing counsel
  • Keeping you from confronting your ex-spouse alone unless you want to.

Our attorneys will fight aggressively in court to get the child support your children deserve.

To learn how you can sue for back child support, call our team today at 630-305-0222 so that we can find a solution together.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]