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What if you need a modification of child support in Illinois?

Illinois is rather particular about how often parents are allowed to ask the court to review their child support orders. Absent any significant changes in the child's needs or the non-custodial parent's income and resources, you can only make a modification request every three years.

But what if you do have a significant change in your income? Economic upheavals are happening all over the country and a lot of people are out of work -- many of them uncertain when they'll be able to return. Those child support obligations can pile up rather quickly when you don't have an income coming in.

Here's how to handle your situation:

  1. Don't put the issue off. No matter what else is happening, you need to contact the court and your child's other parent as soon as possible about your situation. A proactive approach never hurts -- and it can show the court that you're conscious of your obligation and sincere about your predicament.
  2. Pay whatever you can. If you can make a partial support payment, that's better than nothing. Make sure that you document exactly what you paid, how you paid it and when you paid it. You may need to prove it to the court later.
  3. Be ruthless with your finances. Parents -- even those without primary physical custody -- are expected to sacrifice for their children. Cut out any unnecessary expenses and live as sparingly as possible so that you can show the court that your limitations are real. Don't forget to gather your financial records to show the court what you've tried before defaulting.

Finally, talk to an experienced family law attorney about your situation. They understand what it takes to get a modification of support and when such a request is appropriate.

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