Children in Illinois are currently owed over $3 billion, a trend that has been ongoing for years.
The state is only collecting approximately 58 percent of child support payments, and the rest of that money is likely to never be collected, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Illinois law stipulates that 20 percent of a supporting party’s net income be given for the support of one child, with the percentage rate increasing with the number of children maxing out at 50 percent for 6 children or more.
But 50 percent of zero is still zero, and family advocates say the recession and unemployment are taking their toll on “deadbeat dads” and their ability to pay support.
Legal experts and researchers also blame the state system, including “unrealistic support orders.”
Mother LaTanya Hubbert was quoted as saying that she is supposed to receive $150 every two weeks, but those payments have been missed for several months over the last few years.
“I depend on that to help me pay expenses,” Hubbert told the Sun-Times. “It makes a huge difference as to whether I can buy groceries for two days, to getting [my 13-year-old son’s] hair cut, to getting a $1,000 root canal he needs.”
Hubbert added that her ex-husband is unemployed, and that the only support she’s been receiving currently are deductions from his unemployment benefits.
A representative from the Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Department said that 57 percent of supporting parties claim they currently have no income, while 28 percent claim they make less than $30,000 per year.
Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at Brookings Institution, told the paper, “We have an expression in child support, ‘you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.’ Many of these fathers do not have jobs.”
Malcolm Rich, executive director of the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, wants Illinois judges to “deviate from stringent guidelines” and to allow more flexible payment plans, asking, “Can we work out a system where less money from a non-custodial parent is better than no money collected at all?”