Parties are divorced. The wife was awarded custody of the three children. Husband paid child support. Later, the Husband was awarded custody. The wife is now to pay child support to her Husband.

Husband files a motion because Wife is not paying child support. She filed a motion to abate the support. She did not request that it be suspended until she is working again. She says that she has lost her job. The court stopped the support. The court ordered the Wife to keep a job diary. She had an obligation to find a suitable job.

Time passes. They are back in court. The wife says that she did not have any idea that she had to pay child support after it was abated. She testified that her understanding of abatement was that she did not have to pay child support while she was unemployed.

The abatement law stated that temporary abatement of support lasts for six months. It does not have to be paid for six months. But, it keeps adding up. The support shall continue to add up at the same amount which was abated. The Judge ordered that the Wife now owed almost $60,000 in back support.

This law applies only to the short-term inability of the obligor to pay support. If the inability is due to a temporary layoff from employment or other factors.

This law was being used on an experimental basis by certain counties. A county had to formally adopt the law in order to use it.

Turns out that this county had not adopted the experimental abatement law. The Appellate Court sent the case back to the trial court. That court had to determine what the wife did owe for child support.

The wife may not owe the $60,000 in back support due to the law’s technicalities at the time. But, she still had an obligation to support her children. She can’t try to hide behind the fact that she misunderstood the law. Or that it lets her off the child support hook.

Noncustodial parents should not be allowed the opportunity to escape from paying support merely because they choose to remain unemployed. If anything, their obligation should encourage them to obtain employment sooner rather than later.

IRMO Reimer, 387 Ill.App.3d 1066.

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