A recent reader sent me the following:
My Dad never paid my Mom child support. I am an adult now and want to sue him for all of the years we had to struggle because he wasn’t there for us. Can you help me?
In Illinois there are a lot of misconceptions about child support. Here are two big ones:
- Child support doesn’t go to the children. So even though this reader is an adult and suffered because his Dad was a terrible guy, it’s up to his mom to bring a case now to try and collect back child support. And she can only do so if there is a court order already in place. In other words, you can’t go after child support when your kid is legally an adult if you’ve never tried previously. And the kid can’t bring the case. It’s up to the mom to go after support or not do so.
- The reason the now adult can’t go after money that could have helped him out as a child is because that money was really designed to help out his mom. Along those same lines, there is nothing that requires the parent that gets support to use it on the kid. They can pay rent, party, buy a car, take a vacation, etc. Now the other parent can object to this in court and say that their ex isn’t acting in the best interests of the child, but the bigger picture is that a child can’t direct how child support is used to support them.
So unfortunately we weren’t able to help this reader, although hopefully getting honest legal advice, which we’ll give to anyone, was a help to him.