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Non-custodial parent lost job; cannot pay the amount demanded by court ordered child support payments.

Chicago, IL |

Is now working temporary jobs and was told by State of IL to pay as much as possible each month - at least $100 to show you are trying. the children live in another state. Has now been charged with contempt because of back pay and has a court date. What can the parent do to protect their rights? Parent does love the children and want to be a part of their lives and knows it is joint parental responsibility to help provide for them.

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Attorney answers 7


I agree with everything that is been said by the other attorneys answering the question. However, you need to deal with the contempt citation. Your inability to pay will usually shield you from a finding of contempt, as your failure to pay was not willful. If you have already filed your petition to modify, you will be able to point to that. However, this is a complicated enough argument that I would not try and make it on your own. If you can't afford an attorney check with your local legal services agency. Check to see if you can find a pro bono attorney. And if you can't get an attorney to come with you to court, at least consult with one so that you have a better idea of what you need to say in do when you appear before the judge.

If you found this Answer to be helpful, please mark it as such. Remember, however, this is only generalized commentary on your question. It is not to be taken as legal advice. I am a lawyer – but not your lawyer! Even "in person" interviews leave attorneys with plenty of questions – the Internet makes it crazy! Thank you Chuck Watson 217.544.6165


You need to return to court ASSAP to seek an order reducing your child support payments. Child support will continue at the previously ordered rate unless and until an order reducing the amount is entered.


He needs to file a Motion to Modify Child Support based on "a substantial change in circumstances." The change of circumstance is the lost job. Child Support can only be modified to the date of "notice" of the filed Motion so it needs to be done as soon as possible. A lawyer can help get the amount reduced as much as possible. A small difference in the ordered monthly payment can add up to a substantial amount of money over time. Good luck.

This response shall not be construed as specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship or privilege. Further, this response is not intended to solicit legal fees.


No client can take law into their own hands and "self-reduce."

What is necessary is a motion for reduction, based on substantial change in circumstances--the change would retroactive to date of filing, so speed is of the essence.

Always wise policy to make utmost efforts to pay whatever amount is possible.

The author provides the preceding information as a service to the public. Author's response, as stated above, should not be considered legal advice. An initial attorney-client conference, based upon review of all relevant facts/documents, will be necessary to provide legal advice upon which the client should then rely.

Luke D. Kazmar

Luke D. Kazmar


He may have been charged with contempt [just a Petition for Rule to Show Cause], but not ADJUDICATED with contempt. He will still get a chance to prove that his "failure to comply was without cause or justification...violation not willful and contumacious" If the finding of contempt of made, the costs and mandatory attorney fees [of prevailing party] will be mandatory.

Luke D. Kazmar

Luke D. Kazmar

Posted “supplemental comment” should read as follows: FATHER may have been CHARGED with contempt [via Petition for Rule to Show Cause], but has not yet ADJUDICATED to have committed contempt. He will still get a chance to prove that his "VIOLATION WAS NOT WILLFUL & CONTUMACIOUS." The FIRST DISTRICT has case law precedent that the "failure of a husband to comply with the decree directing the payment of support money for children is prima facie evidence of contempt...the burden then is on the husband to show that he had a valid excuse for nonpayment.” "In determining the propriety of orders in enforcement proceedings it is necessary…that each case be viewed in the light of its own peculiar facts." So FATHER still has a shot, although a slim one. If father succeeds in making this difficult showing--he will not have to pay attorney fees/costs. If the adjudication of contempt of made, the costs/attorney fees [of prevailing party-mother] will be imposed against father.


so the non custodian should go to court to ask that the support be reduced.

what rights does the ncp want to protect? there should be a visit order. if not, ask for one. if you want to be part of the lives of your children, if there is no work here, go move to the same town they are in, get a job and see them regularly.


A petition to modify child support should have been filed based on a substantial change in circumstances. Support will not be lowered without one.



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