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The best-case scenario is when you already have a court order in place. We’re talking about a court order for child support, which is a court document that tells one parent what they must pay the other parent for the support of their child or children. If you have one of these, then you have a head start and you can go after the other parent for past-due payments.

You can bring the other parent back to court to force payments. Wage garnishment and other tactics can be used if they continue to refuse to pay. The good news is that it’s really never too late if you have a court order. There isn’t a deadline in Illinois for collecting unpaid child support. Interest on unpaid support should be included, as well.

If you don’t have a court order, you’ll be asking for retroactive child support, which is harder to get. If your child is still a minor, you can get an order for current and future child support, however. Get the help of a child support lawyer in order to give yourself and advantage. Good legal advice also ensures that you avoid pitfalls.

Adult children often wonder if they can collect past-due child support that their parent never paid. Unfortunately, the child themselves cannot collect this, even as an adult. It’s ordered to be paid to the parent, so that parent must be the one who goes after it. It might not be too late to collect, but we tell these individuals that they have to convince their parent to get involved.

Potential obstacles include a parent who has disappeared, or a parent who is unemployed and/or claims to have no income or assets. If the parent who should be paying child support is claiming that they can’t afford it, and you suspect that they are lying, an experienced attorney can help you find out the truth.

Don’t put your ability to collect child support at risk by making private agreements for payment with your ex. And don’t let them off the hook if they haven’t paid. You need to protect your interest – which is really your child’s interest – and maintain your leverage.