A procedural change regarding child support agreements went into effect on January 1, 2011. The law seems simple, but its effect could be profound. It certainly speaks to the state's commitment to the best interests of the child and, as such, is important information for Illinois parents and family law professionals to know.
Enrolled as Public Act 96‐1072, the law requires that a child support order stay in effect right after a judgment for dissolution of marriage is entered, regardless of post-judgment motions. This will likely make perfect sense to family law attorneys, but everyone else may be scratching their heads.
In real-life terms, it goes like this: A couple has reached an agreement about the terms of their divorce, including the amount of child support granted to the parent who has custody of the children. Remember, a child support agreement can also stipulate that there will be no support payments. This agreement is approved by the court as a "judgment and decree."
Either the husband or the wife can file a motion to amend or to dismiss some or all of the support arrangement. The motion can be filed immediately or years down the road. In the past, child support payments were suspended after such a motion was filed and reinstated when the court made a decision. It's not hard to imagine that the suspension could work a hardship on the custodial parent and the children. And it's sad to think that in particularly rancorous child custody and child support disputes, these motions would be used as weapons to "get back" at a person's ex.
This law short-circuits that and puts the needs of the children first. The parties are welcome to file all the post-judgment motions they want, but the child support agreement stays in place until the court orders a modification. So, effective January 1, 2011, the legal system ensures continuity of support payments until a final decision is made by a court.
Resource: The Barrington (Ill.) Patch "The New Year Will Bring 192 New Laws" 12/28/10