Free Kids Health Insuarance
Father's Day without Dad
Illinois Single Parents Struggle to Collect Child Support
Most Wanted Deadbeats
Dawn Vlaicevic, a single mother, is the founder of "Child Support In Illinois", to help families learn about their legal rights pertaining to child support and also to offer the resources needed for successfully collecting these funds. Dawn has been pursuing collection of her own child's support for eight years. Dawn and Matt's father, Mato B., lived together until the child was eighteen months old. When Matt was four years old, Dawn was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to have part of her lung removed. Dawn calls her bout with cancer a wake-up call that caused her to actively pursue the collection of Matt's child support. Paternity and a child support order were legally established via a default court order; Mato was legally served all the necessary papers but failed to appear in court. "Paternity By Default court orders now account for about 50% of all paternity establishment cases in the U.S..
Matt is now a vibrant 12 year old, who is an honor roll student with an interest in graphic arts. Dawn works full time as an accounts payable administrator. She regrets not having the extra income needed that would permit Matt to participate in extra curricular activities such as guitar lessons or visits to Universal Animation Studios. "I pay for my own health insurance and I have a mortgage. It is very difficult to make ends meet and even more difficult to buy clothes and the extras that my son is entitled to. We have never taken a vacation and yes, sometimes I do feel guilty that I am unable to supply the wants that my child has, let alone the necessaries. But I do my best! Above all my child knows that I love him and that I am here for him. I am willing to continue to fight for what rightfully belongs to him." Another disappointment was the experience of getting Mato to develop a father - son relationship with Matt. Dawn has reached out to Mato many times to try to accomplish this, yet has only gotten very little response. Every year she sends him Matt's school pictures, hoping fervently he will desire to become connected with this son.
Mato now owes over $23,000 in unpaid child support. Dawn has written letters to State, Regional and Federal Child Support Enforcement agencies many times to request strict enforcement of the child support laws. After having been told by the Cook County State's Attorney that it would be 3-6 months before any action would be taken on her case, she recently received a response from a letter she sent to the Illinois Comptroller's Office. They were able to expedite her case and compelled the State's Attorney to file a "Contempt Of Court motion. Additionally, the state has agreed to further her cause by involving the IRS via a "Full Collection" order. The IRS attempts to collect child support in the same manner as they collect back taxes. Criminal non-support charges may also be filed if needed.
When asked if this dogged pursuit of government agencies in an effort to receive justice was worth it, Dawn says "Yes! After many attempts I got a court date in the fall of 2003 which resulted in Mato paying $2,000 towards back support and he paid current support payments for five months. Because of that, I was able to buy the house that we had been renting for years. Becoming a home owner has give me a sense of self worth that I never had before and shows Matt that the right this to do is to be a responsible parent."
You Can Reach Child Support in Illinois [email protected]
Theresa Baxter is the mother of Brandon (age 14), Joshua (age 12), and Kristen (age 11), who are owed $46,000 in unpaid child support. Their child support case is an interstate case, since Theresa and the children live in New York while the father, Jeffrey B., resides in Kingsland, Georgia. Mr. B. works "under the table installing carpet and tile.
A child support court order was issued as part of the divorce in 1995. Jeffery paid sporadically, and then moved out of state. He was arrested once for non-support when he returned to New York. He was placed on probation and made payments under the supervision of the state of Georgia. Once the probation ended in 2001, he stopped paying child support again. Since that time arrears have accumulated to amount to $46,000 according to records at the New York State Division of Child Support. Bureaucratic red tape between New York and Georgia and even Florida, where he lived for a short time, has made collection efforts difficult for Theresa.
Theresa has written to many agencies and jurisdictions with little or no results. "I worked full time as a manager in a hotel for almost 9 years while raising my 3 kids completely alone, went to college full time to receive my associates degree, graduated in 1998, and am now completing nursing school and will be an RN in December. I have large student loans to pay off- not just for tuition, but I had to use loans to pay for daycare! The kids always need new clothes, shoes, etc... They can't do a lot of the things their peers do because there just isn't money for it. I have been unable to get proper health care for them, and they haven't been able to go to the dentist- 2 of the kids will need braces and I don't know how I will pay for that. We are waiting to hear about Child Health Plus for medical, and have had that, but it is a runaround to get if you aren't completely dependant on the system. Their father was ordered to cover that, but has not. My middle son needs a special medical evaluation, which I have not been able to do because of the insurance problem. Not receiving child support has caused our family to endure hardships because it is a constant stress to me as the single mom to not only raise and nurture and care for and guide 3 kids alone, but to have to try to come up with enough money alone to make sure they have what they need."
What can be done to help families like Theresa's? Since Jeffery is an "under-the-table earner, evidence that he has income and ability to pay is needed for the court to enforce the order and punish him for failing to meet his child support to obligation. This could be gathered by finding customers of Jeffery and subpoenaing them to testify that they paid him money for services rendered. This would show the court he had income and ability to support this children but chose not to do so. Finding this type of evidence can be difficult and usually requires a creative approach. How to Collect Child Support, 3rd Edition, provides tips and methods that can be used to gather this type of evidence. For example, having someone hire Jeffery and ask him for references would be one way to find customers who paid him for services rendered.
Getting states to work cooperatively on child support cases takes persistence, and numerous contacts with both states' government child support agencies. You can write one letter about your case and send it to both government agencies. Also, contact the Federal Office of Child Support, Regional Offices over each state, they can put pressure on states to work together for the good of the children.
REGIONAL OFFICES - CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT
Region I: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
REGION II: NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, PUERTO RICO, VIRGIN ISLANDS OCSE Program Manager Administration for Children and Families Federal Building, Room 4048 26 Federal Plaza New York, NY 10278 212-264-2890
Region III: DELAWARE, MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, WEST VIRGINIA, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Region IV: ALABAMA, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, KENTUCKY, MISSISSIPPI, NORTH CAROLINA, SOUTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE
Region V - ILLINOIS, INDIANA, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, OHIO, WISCONSIN
Region VI - ARKANSAS, LOUISIANA, NEW MEXICO, OKLAHOMA, TEXAS
Region VII - IOWA, KANSAS, MISSOURI, NEBRASKA
Region VIII - COLORADO, MONTANA, NORTH DAKOTA, SOUTH DAKOTA, UTAH, WYOMING
Region IX - ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, HAWAII, NEVADA, GUAM
Region X - ALASKA, IDAHO, OREGON, WASHINGTON