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What is the Lake County State Attorney's role in child support?

People in Lake County who are having an issue receiving their child support might not know exactly where they are supposed to turn to get help. Some people might be under the impression that they are to contact the State Attorney's Office to get what they are owed as the custodial parent. This is a mistake. However, the State Attorney's Office does play a part in the collection of unpaid child support. Knowing how this works can save time and effort in going through the right channels to rectify the situation.

If child support has not been paid, the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) of Illinois must be contacted first, not the State Attorney's Office. The DCSE will move forward in conducting a review of the particular case and make a decision if it is necessary to take administrative action or if there will need to be judicial intervention. The administrative collection tools can be effective in getting what is owed.

The DCSE can use the following strategies to collect: intercepting state and federal income tax refunds that were to be sent to the supporting parent; intercepting lottery winnings; withholding benefits from unemployment; placing a lien on the supporting parent's property; seizing bank accounts; and placing a hold on such official documents as professional licenses and passports. Often, the DCSE will refer the case to the State Attorney's Office to move forward with child support enforcement proceedings. If the supporting parent does not appear when the hearing is to be held, the court will issue an attachment, which directs law enforcement to bring the person into court.

If the supporting parent does appear and the judge determines that the failure to pay was an act of contempt, it is possible that jail time will be ordered for as long as six months. The owing parent will then have to pay a certain amount of money - known as a "purge" - to be released or avoid jail.

The State's Attorney's General's office is part of this process, but a custodial parent must know what role the office plays so as not to make a mistake and contact them when it is not appropriate to do so. To avoid making errors that will delay or harm the process, speaking to an attorney who knows what to do when there is a refusal to pay child support can help.

Source: lakecountyil.gov, "Missed Payments," accessed on April 19, 2016

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