- by Mary Stearns-Montgomery
Issues of custody are always difficult, both for the parents and the children involved. What can make these disputes even more stressful is when the non-custodial parent cannot afford to make child support payments. In these tough economic times, an increasing number of parents fall into the “unable to pay” category, as opposed to willfully denying to make their scheduled payments. Failing to make child support payments on time can lead to charges of contempt, which in turn can lead to jail time. It often falls on the non-custodial parent’s shoulders to prove he or she is not unwilling to pay, but rather unable.
What to do if you are unable to pay child support
If you know that you will not be able to afford the child support that was initially determined in the custody proceedings, you should immediately contact an attorney and file a formal motion requesting modification due to changed circumstances. It is essential to have this motion modified through the court, as non-binding verbal agreements will not hold up if you are later charged with failure to pay.
If the custodial parent has already filed for a contempt proceeding, there is still opportunity to prove to the judge that the failure to pay was not a willful act. It is important to note that being unable to pay as the result of voluntarily leaving a job will oftentimes be considered willful. Even if the court does determine that your case was due to an inability to pay, that does not alleviate the responsibility to eventually make necessary payments. Unless the child support agreement is modified, the custodial parent is still owed the deemed amount. The court will determine how these payments shall be made.
Issues of child support in Georgia are complex and difficult to navigate without the assistance of a practiced attorney. The lawyers at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor will make certain your rights are recognized.