Flash Point: Mandatory Interest on Unpaid Child Support Payments Effective May 1, 1987

The Illinois Supreme Court recently held that mandatory interest on child support payments became effective as of May 1, 1987.  The support obligor father had been largely delinquent in payments from 1992 through 2005.  He conceded that mandatory interest accrued beginning in 2000 (the year the IMDMA was amended to provide for mandatory interest on unpaid support obligations), thereby narrowing the issue to whether interest was mandatory from 1992 through 2000.  The Supreme Court reasoned that by way of Public Act 85-2 effective May 1, 1987, that the legislature stated that unpaid child support payments “shall” be deemed judgments and that these judgments “shall bear interest” at the same rate as all other judgments.  Therefore, past due child support payments began to bear mandatory interest on May 1, 1987.  In holding so, the Supreme Court distinguished its prior case of Finley v. Finley, 81 Ill.2d 317, which still stands for the proposition that where there are no controlling statutes defining unpaid support payments as judgments or providing for interest, interest may be awarded on those payments as a discretionary matter.  Therefore, the only child support judgments under which interest is discretionary, are those entered prior to May 1, 1987.  Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services v. Wiszowaty. 2011 WL 188870.


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