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Millions at stake over child support dispute with BCBS


Parents across the Rockford area understand the importance of child support payments. Parents and dependent children rely on this money to pay for basic necessities. In some cases, child support payments are all that keep a family from being in poverty. When it comes to child support disputes, these matters are generally viewed as fights among parents. However, this is not always the case as shown by one woman's five-year legal battle.

Illinois state law requires employers, also called "payors," to garnish the paychecks of employees that owe child support, once served with an income withholding order. The woman's ex-husband in this matter is a self-employed chiropractor who is reimbursed for his patients care by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBS). BCBS has spent years refusing to comply with the withholding order in the case, and is facing millions of dollars in penalties.

According to the woman's lawyer, BCBS may be ordered to pay her around $5 million. The ruling will come more than five years into a lengthy court battle to collect her child support payments. She awaits the judge's order as she is about to lose her second house to foreclosure and recovers from a hip replacement.

BCBS claims that it does not meet the definition of "payor," despite a 2010 appellate court opinion to the contrary. An Illinois state law provides a $100 per day penalty for every violation of the state's Withholding Act. This is how the penalties faced by BCBS have reached several millions of dollars.

Despite the stress and longevity often involved in these types of family law disputes, it is important for recipients of child support payments to pursue their legal rights. No one person or company is above the law in these types of matters.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Woman battling Blue Cross over child support," Lisa Black, Sept. 1, 2013.

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