"Lawyer to get child support or through state agency (IL)? My brother is screwing over the mother of his children. She is a nurse and makes okay money but not enough to provide for them without support. She is currently making payments to a lawyer, but I wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper for her to go through IL state agency and fill out the apps through them. Is there a benefit to going through a lawyer - can he/she maybe get a larger child support amount? I really want to help her out, as she is going to lose her house without the money."
There is no quick answer to your question-- but if you don't want to read the details I provide below, I'd go with the Child Support Enforcement division of your local State's Attorney.
The amount of child support a non-custodial parent pays in Illinois is decided by one of two methods under 750 ILCS 5/505. The first-- and most common -- is a statutory minimum percentage of a net income of the non-custodial parent. Basically, for one child a non-custodial parent pays 20% of a net income (for two it's 28%, etc.)-- which is gross pay (of all income from all sources) minus the following: federal and state income taxes, FICA, prior support obligations, certain medical insurance premiums, union dues, and other less common required retirement account payments and expenditures for debt payments incurred for a business or means to make an income or for the custodial parent or the child(ren).
This calculation is pretty much straight math and will be used unless there are other circumstances that would make that amount of child support inappropriate (See 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(2))-- too little or too much. Usually, the statutory minimum is used.
If the non-custodial parent has a simple situation-- a wage laborer with a simple pay stub and none of those unusual expenses, then a monkey dressed in a crooked tie could go to court and get you the statutory minimum of support. Again, it's straight math. That's why letting the Child Support Enforcement folks handle it will probably be more cost effective than hiring an attorney.
If the situation is more complicated, the attorneys working for the Child Support Enforcement division might not work through the complexities and get as much support as could be had.
However, my experience with some general and family law practices in Illinois is that you'll pay an attorney far too much to make it worth it unless you're talking over a $3,000 yearly difference-- and you'll likely have a lot of headaches along the way with the attorney. (Expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 to settle the support issue.)
And I've watched attorneys agree to child support amounts that were below the statutory minimum-- because the attorneys didn't subpoena actual pay records, because the attorney didn't do the math and instead accepted the other side's calculations, and because the attorney had no idea about the actual facts in the case. While you might get lucky and find a good attorney who works quickly, you might not. At least with the Child Support Enforcement division, you aren't paying for shoddy services.
[This is not legal advice. You should consult a licensed attorney-at-law for legal advice or representation before making decisions that may affect your legal rights.]