Chicago family law attorney Elliot Heidelberger says that the new questions faced by mayoral candidate Willie Wilson’s son show just how deep child support issues can cut over time. The candidate’s son recently told news outlets that he wouldn’t support his dad’s candidacy because his father allegedly didn’t support him as a child.
According to Mario Shannon, the 28-year-old son, Mr. Wilson engaged in a six-year relationship with the boy’s mother, Linda Shannon, after meeting at one of Wilson’s Chicago-area McDonald’s franchises. Ms. Shannon said Mr. Wilson ended the relationship soon after she gave birth.
Mario added that Mr. Wilson only paid sporadic child support until a DNA test proved that he was, in fact, Mr. Wilson’s son. The two have only met once, when Mario was nine-years-old. Mario said that he has attempted to reach out to Mr. Wilson, but has been rebuffed by the self-made millionaire.
Elliot Heidelberger, one of the leading child support lawyers in Chicago, said these kinds of disputes aren’t unusual. “Child support extends far beyond just a financial commitment,” he said. “Children need emotional support from both parents. When one parent doesn’t make him or herself available, that can create resentment and anger in the child later in life.”
Mr. Heidelberger says that he often encourages parents to work together to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on support, custody, and visitation. “When parents work together, there’s often a higher level of participation,” he said. “When the issue is decided in court, one parent may feel that they’ve been treated unfairly and may emotionally check out.”
For his part, Mr. Wilson’s spokesperson said that the candidate has fulfilled his financial obligations to Mario and that he considers the matter to be private. He said that he signed a settlement agreement when Mario turned 18.