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Alternatives for making a child support decision

There are a few alternative dispute resolution procedures as well as more informal types of negotiations available for parents in Illinois who are getting a divorce and who would like to participate in making a decision about child support rather than going through litigation. Parents might choose to negotiate informally to reach an agreement. If they do so without their respective attorneys, they can then have them review it. In some cases, they may allow the attorneys to do the negotiating.

Mediation involves parents working with a professional trained in conflict resolution to reach a solution that suits them both. In arbitration, parents would each tell their side of the story and present any evidence to a neutral third party, and the arbitrator makes a decision. However, parents may not be required to abide by this decision.

Once an agreement is reached, parents should put it in writing. It can then go to a judge for approval. Judges usually approve parental child support agreements as long as they are consistent with state guidelines and appear to be fair. After the agreement becomes legally binding, if one parent's child support payments lapse, the other parent can go through the court system to try to collect support.

There are a number of penalties associated with failing to pay child support, and a parent's wages may be garnished. However, if a parent is genuinely unable to afford the amount agreed upon because of a job loss or similar issue, it is possible to ask the court for a modification in support due to a change in circumstances. Until the modification is approved, the parent will continue to owe the same amount, and the modification has no effect on any past due payments.

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