Top Ten Myths in Illinois Divorce Cases [Myth #7]

Myth: If I have no income, I can’t be ordered to pay child support or maintenance.

Not true. Illinois courts, as do most states courts, will go out of their way to protect children in connection with child support payments. If a party does not have employment, the court can take assets from that person, set them aside in what’s known as a section 503-g trust, and utilize the proceeds from that trust for child support. Courts will routinely require an unemployed spouse to keep a job diary, so the fact that someone may be between jobs doesn’t mean they don’t have an obligation to look for and obtain paid employment. In some cases, parties are underemployed; somebody who has demonstrated an ability to earn three or four hundred thousand a year will be required to pay child support at that level, and will not be allowed to pay child support based on an income of fifty or seventy-five thousand unless the lower paying job is a good faith employment. So courts will impute income to somebody who is not working and earning a traditional and reasonable level.

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