Child support is money one parent pays to help another parent pay for expenses related to a child. A parent must be the child's legal parent to be required to pay child support:
- If the child's parents were never married, parentage must first be established. Learn more about Establishing parentage (paternity);
- If the parents were married when the child was born, it is assumed that the husband is the father; or
- If the parents marry after the child's birth and the husband has agreed to be on the birth certificate, he is considered the father.
Married parents may ask for child support in the following ways:
- By filing court papers, either as part of a divorce or legal separation or in a separate child support case filed by one of the parents; or
- Through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (“IV-D Services”).
Hiring a lawyer to get child support
A lawyer may bring a case to court faster and represent a case better, but a lawyer will also cost money. The parent asking for child support might not want to spend money on a lawyer because they are not sure of how much child support they will receive.
Remember, getting information about the other parent can be hard. Child support cases can take a long time even if a lawyer is hired.
Going to court to get child support without a lawyer
There are many things to think about before trying to get child support. A child support case can last a long time. This is even more true if it is hard to find the other parent or learn how much money the other parent makes. A parent might have to go to court multiple times.
A parent may also find it hard to get a child support order on their own if the other parent hires a lawyer or if the parents have a bad relationship. In those situations it is best to get help from HFS IV-D Services.