In Illinois, the duty of support owed to a child includes the obligation to provide for the reasonable and necessary educational, physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child. For purposes of child support, the term “child” shall include any child under age 18 and any child under age 19 who is still attending high school.
Generally, the amount for child support is a fixed dollar amount based on certain percentages of the Obligor’s (supporting party’s) net income. In Illinois, a child support order is called a Uniform Order for Support.
1. Where should I file my complaint for child support?
You should file your child support case in the state and county that is the domicile of the child. A person may only have one domicile. A child’s domicile is the place where the child has his/her true, fixed, and permanent home.
Is the Domicile of the Child in Illinois and in this County?
Yes – Party may file in this county.
No – Party must file in the proper state/county.
In Cook County, child support cases are filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Parents that were never married will file their documents with the Clerk’s Child Support Division in Room 200 of the N. Clark Street location. Parties who were married or are divorced will file their case in the Clerk’s Domestic Relations Division in Room 802 of the Daley Center. If you are a participant of the IV-D Program, your case will be filed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Pro se (self-represented) filers must file the appropriate documents with the court and notify all other parties to the case of the filing.
The Cook County Child Support Division contact information is:
28 North Clark Street | Room 200 | Chicago, IL 60602 | Phone (312) 345-4125
Filing Procedure Information (312) 345-4147
Clerk’s Voice Information System (recorded information on your case) (312) 603-2000
Hours are 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday (excluding court holidays)
Contact information for the Domestic Relations Division is:
50 West Washington Street
Richard J. Daley Center
Chicago, IL 60602
Main Phone (312) 603-3025
The Illinois Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) also offers and provides child support services (also known as IV-D services) to all Illinois families, whether they receive public assistance or not. They can help locate a parent, help legally establish paternity, help get an order for support, help modify support, and help collect support orders. They cannot provide legal advice, and cannot help parents get a divorce or property settlement, get or modify a custody or visitation order, or get an order to provide for college expenses.
For a listing of regional DCSS locations click here.
2. Is the action between the natural parents or is a third party involved?
- If Natural Parents Only – Continue to #3.
- If there is a Third Party involved, does the Third Party have an existing Guardianship Order for the child?
Yes – Party may file complaint for Child Support against natural parents. Go to #3.
No – In order for a third party to receive an award of support from a child’s natural parents, they should file a petition for guardianship.
3. Is there a dispute as to paternity?
Yes – If father denies paternity and mother is seeking child support, go to the local Child Support Services location (in Cook County the offices are located in Deerfield and Chicago) unless you want to file yourself pro se or be represented by legal counsel. Any petition must be in written form and comply with court and statutory requirements. All statutory requirements should be identified to ensure that all requirements are met.
No – Go to #4.
- Is there an existing Custody/Visitation Order?
Yes – Go to #5.
No – If there is no existing Custody/Visitation Order, then it is advisable to file for custody and visitation. While the parties may be amicable now, a custody order is valuable if the parties disagree later. If you do not wish to pursue custody, go to #5.
5. Is there a current Child Support Order?
Yes – Are the parties complying with the order?
Yes – An order for child support is generally only able to be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in the non-custodial parent’s income, or if there is a significant change in the needs of the child.
If the order is though IV-D services, it is eligible to be reviewed for modification every 3 years, or if there is a substantial change in circumstances amounting to an increase or decrease in the non-custodial parent’s income, or if there is a significant change in the needs of the child. Participants of IV-D Program may be able to petition the court for modification without showing a substantial change in circumstances if 3 years have passed since the last child support order was established and there is a difference of at least 20% between the amount of the existing child support order and the increased amount of child support. However, the difference cannot be less than $10.00 a month.
If there is a substantial change, then modification is possible, depending on the circumstances.
The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office works with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to enforce support obligations owed to children.
Child support may be collected or enforced by serving a notice on the employer to withhold support from the non-custodial parent’s paychecks with payment going to the State Disbursement Unit (or the non-custodial parent may pay the State Disbursement Unit directly), by filing court documents requesting to have the non-custodial parent held in contempt for willfully not paying the support (which could result in the non-custodial parent facing jail time, electronic home monitoring, or having his or her driver’s license revoked), by intercepting federal and state income tax refunds, by filing liens on property, and by filing criminal cases possibly resulting in a conviction for willful failure to pay child support and for leaving Illinois to avoid paying child support, which could result in jail time, the sheriff’s work alternative program, probation, a fine and restitution (restitution being mandatory) to the custodial parent or legal guardian.
No – If no Child Support Enforcement Order has been issued:
If filing pro se (self-represented) in Cook County, child support cases are filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Parents that were never married will file their documents with the Clerk’s Child Support Division in Room 200 of the N. Clark Street location. Parties who were married or are divorced will file their case in the Clerk’s Domestic Relations Division in Room 802 of the Daley Center. If you are a participant of the IV-D Program, your case will be filed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Pro se filers must file the appropriate documents with the court and notify all other parties to the case of the filing.
If applying through the IV-D Program, you may apply for child support services through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). An IV-D application and affidavit of income and expenses must be completed and returned to HFS. A Family Support Specialist will assist you in completing the necessary forms, including a petition for child support.
6. Are you familiar with the Illinois Child Support Guidelines?
The Illinois Child Support Guidelines are established by Illinois statute and are outlined in Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The guidelines have been established so that the parties have realistic expectations of the potential support award. In almost all circumstances the parties cannot agree to a lesser amount than is required by the guidelines, however the court has the discretion to deviate from the guidelines, taking into account the best interests of the child.