In Illinois, there are very specific laws related to enforcing and collecting money judgments. There are even more specific laws as well as unsettled caselaw related to if and how those collection laws apply to child support in domestic relations cases. Are there time limits to within which a parent must enforce and collect on past-due child support or child support judgments? Do any special rules apply? The answer is, as it often is, “it depends.”
Imagine the following scenario: A husband and wife were divorced on January 1, 1970. The divorce decree entered on that date provided that the husband would pay the sum of $100.00 for child support for the parties’ minor child, who was three years old at the time the divorce was finalized. The Husband paid no child support whatsoever. The child emancipated in 1985 and wife never took the husband back to court for payment of child support. In 2017, the wife found out that the previously unemployed husband had won $500,000 playing the Illinois lottery, and so she decided to collect on the past-due child support that was due and owing from 1970 through 1985. However, more than 32 years have elapsed since the child emancipated, and more than 37 years have elapsed since the first unpaid child support came due. Is that too long?