Can I Have Child Support Arrears Forgiven If Children Are Grown?

Can I Have Child Support Arrears Forgiven If Children Are Grown?

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

Illinois makes clear both parents have an obligation to support their children financially, and Illinois law now relies on the “income shares” model for child support, which means that both parents contribute to the overall child support obligation based on their individual incomes and other relevant factors.

Aside from the possibility of college expenses in a divorce case, child support ends once a child reaches the age of majority or graduates from high school. Regardless of whether your child support case was decided before or after Illinois shifted to using the “income shares” model, you may be wondering about how courts handle child support arrears once a child is grown. Can you have your child support arrears forgiven if your kids are now adults?

In short, your child support arrears are not erased or forgiven once your child becomes an adult, but there may be options for reducing or forgiving child support arrears in certain situations. Our Chicago child support attorneys can help.

No Statute of Limitations on Child Support Enforcement Actions

In Illinois child support cases before 1997, child support arrears were not forgiven when a child reached the age of majority, but there was a statute of limitations on child enforcement actions. In other words, a parent who owed child support could only expect that the state would be legally permitted to continue taking enforcement actions for a specific amount of time. After seven (7) years — under the old system — the statute of limitations ran out and the state could no longer continue taking enforcement actions to collect child support owed by a parent.

However, since the late 1990s, there is no statute of limitations in Illinois on child support enforcement actions. To be sure, under Illinois law (735 ILCS 5/12-108(a)), while certain judgments can only be enforced for seven years from the date that the cause of action arose, “child support judgments, including those arising by operation of law, may be enforced at any time.” In other words, child support enforcement actions do not have a statute of limitations, and the state can continue taking actions against a parent — indefinitely — to collect past-owed child support.

Child Support Debt Compromise Policies

A majority of U.S. states have debt compromise policies in place that can allow parents who owe back child support to work out a debt compromise for child support arrears, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Illinois is one of these states with Project Clean Slate.

What is Project Clean Slate? It is a program run through the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services through which child support owed to the state (i.e., child support following nonpayment and child support enforcement actions) can be forgiven. To be eligible for child support debt forgiveness through Project Clean Slate, you must be able to show that one of the following resulted in your nonpayment:

  • You were unemployed
  • You were incarcerated
  • You had a serious illness that prevented you from paying child support

Contact Our Chicago Child Support Lawyers

If you need assistance managing child support arrears, a Chicago child support lawyer at our firm can assist you. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC today for more information.