Many Illinois parents have gone through a divorce and have been awarded primary physical custody of their young children. In most cases, the court has also awarded them child support, and these parents often rely on prompt and timely payments to meet the costs of raising their children. While noncustodial parents may make every effort to comply with their obligations, a question arises as to how to proceed if such a parent suddenly becomes disabled as result of an accident.
Generally speaking, a disability will not end the obligation to provide support. However, it can clearly impact the ability to do so, especially when it results in an inability to return to work for a prolonged period. If the disabled parent becomes entitled to receive benefits through an employer-provided insurance policy, then payments should continue to be made. However, the amount of benefits will in most cases be less than the salary the parent had previously been receiving. In such an event, it is likely that a court would approve a request to modify the amount as child support is based in part on the income of the noncustodial parent.
If granted by the court, the duration of the child support modification will track the expected length of the disability. This could last until the child becomes emancipated if the disability is permanent.
It should be noted that in some cases disability benefits can be garnished if child support payments become past due. This is the case even with Social Security Disability Insurance. As a result, disabled parents who are worried that they might fall behind may want to have legal assistance in seeking a modification prior to any garnishment or similar enforcement action.