Collecting Child Support from Deadbeat Parents

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Two years ago the Winnebago County State's Attorney told 23 News he was going to prosecute deadbeat parents for criminal non-payment of child support, but to date that hasn't happened.

Now, 23 News reporter Meghan Dwyer followed up on the story. She's here with more on why the book isn't being thrown at more parents.

The Winnebago County State's Attorney says he still plans to hold deadbeat parents responsible for not paying child support, but finding cases to prosecute hasn't been easy. That's not going over well with parents who are trying to make ends meet and fighting the system for support.

“They're too lenient. And it's not just single moms I'm sure there are single dads out there too that are probably going through the same things, you know, and they're just way too lenient. They need to step up and say look if you don't pay by this date then guess what you're just gonna be in jail. I don't see why there should be so many chances," said Jennifer Wells
Jennifer Wells has been trying to get child support for two years, but every time she goes to court, her child's father doesn't show up. According to court documents, roughly 3,000 people are trying to collect child support in Winnebago and Boone counties. Nearly a thousand new cases are filed each year.

"A person has to have not paid a certain amount of money for a certain period of time and that person has to have had the ability to pay and chose not to pay. To identify a case where all those elements are present, is a lot harder than it sounds," said the Winnebago County States Attorney.

Bruscato says he's currently working with Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General to try to find local parents to prosecute. He says he still fully intends to bring criminal charges against parents who aren't paying.

An option that judges have in civil court cases, but don't use very often, is putting people in jail for contempt of court, either not paying or not showing up. The other side of that coin is if you're in jail you can't work and that might make it harder to pay child support. Either way thousands of parents are getting off the hook.

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