I am a single custodial father of a 9 year old son. When
his mother and I got divorced, the court did not seek a
child support order since she was not working. I wasnt
disappointed because I did not want anything to do with
her. We went over 6 years with no contact at all from her
or her family even though they all lived in a hour drive
of us. After a year and a half, I finally received a day in
child support court only to find out that after the state
and the ignorant attorney they assigned me told me there
was a order for support, the attorney told me there was
nothing they could do because my ex wife was not working
at the time and even though she had the previous summer my
son was entitled to nothing and since she has 3 other
kids,another on the way possibly, no judge would award him
support anyways. How can I get an order for support? Do I
need an attorney? In the divorce papers, it says she is
responsible for 1/2 of all medical and dental, how can I
enforce that and is that under child support? I have many
more questions of course. The Illinois State Child Support
website is totally geared towards custodial mothers and
not once is custodial dads mentioned or is any help found
for someone in my case. I would love any help you can give
and GOD bless you for what you are doing!
Thanks for writing and your blessings.
There are two approaches here.
1. Of course you will be awarded some child support when you properly bring a motion for it before a judge. I don't know exactly how Illinois works. In California, if a parent isn't working, the court presumes that every parent is able to earn at least minimum wage barring any mental or physical health condition that prevents such work. Then, the child support is calculated on that imputed amount (i.e., minimum wage at 40 hours/week) minus taxes and other allowed deductions (e.g., hardship, other support orders already in place, health insurance, etc). So, in California, a person who has zero percent custodial time, and who earns minimum wage, will probably end up paying maybe a hundred to two hundred bucks a month in child support. Again, I have no idea how it works in Illinois.
2. Ever hear the saying, "Can't get blood from a turnip"?
Even if you do get orders for child support, and even if you find some way to enforce that half of medical/dental... you're describing a mother who has no ability to pay and probably won't for a long time. She'll go into arrears, and you'll be in the same financial situation you currently have.
If I were in your shoes-- and if I had an unhealthy mother who has chosen to stay out of my child's life for six years-- I wouldn't be trying to stir the hornet's nest on a slim chance that the mother does have money and will pay anything that's ordered.
Based on what you describe, I really don't see the mother ever paying you much in child support, whether she's ordered to pay ten bucks a month or ten thousand. You've already seen that with the medical expenses. You'll just get frustrated with all of it, and you'll spent much futile energy on it.
If you're hurting for money, you may need to look elsewhere. I really don't have an answer for you, as many single parents face the same challenge to increase household income somehow.
Once your son is 17 or 18, you can try to go to court to get some relief ordered on all the unpaid medical expenses that have piled up over the years. But I strongly recommend against doing anything while your son is still young enough that a change in the parenting schedule would have a negative impact on him (i.e., if you stir the hornet's nest, there's no telling what motions the mother may file to see the child regularly again-- and it will be allowed to some degree).
Tough situation you're in. Look inward and really think about best solution. It may not be a matter of what is legally RIGHT, but rather what is BEST for keeping chaos out of your child's life and perpetual frustration out of yours. Good luck.
This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.