- by Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor
There is no doubt that divorce is complicated. To make matters more complex, the added component of a child, or children, to the legal mix is typically what makes a relatively basic case quite convoluted and take substantially longer. While the reasoning is obvious, it's important to understand that once your case is resolved, the implications of child custody and following child support laws are instrumental in your family’s long-term responsibilities. Whether you are receiving the support or paying, the well-being of your child depends on the court appointed responsibility of following the law. Knowing Georgia child support enforcement basics will keep both parties on the same page and ensure a consistent program.
Both Parents Have a Legal Obligation to Support their Child
When a parent fails to pay required child support, life can become a nightmare for both parent and child. In Georgia, both parents have a legal obligation to support their children until they reach the age of 18, graduate from high school, marry or become emancipated. The state of Georgia uses a complex child support calculation to determine the amount of support a noncustodial parent must pay to the custodial parent for the child’s living expenses. This calculation takes into account the incomes of both parents. Because it can be confusing, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced Georgia attorney who can answer your questions and explain the calculation process.
Remedies Available When a Parent Fails to Pay Their Obligation
When one parent fails to meet his or her child support obligation, the parent receiving the support has several options available under Georgia law. The remedies set forth below can be initiated separately or used in conjunction with one another.
- Income Deduction Order.One option is to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney who can help you secure an Income Deduction Order. While both parties can work together to agree on an Income Deduction Order, which is signed by the judge, a court can also order it. An Income Deduction Order works by requiring the parent who is ordered to pay to have such support payments withheld from his or her paycheck. This option is not as helpful if the payor does not receive a paycheck, as is the case with a substantial amount of self-employed individuals.
- Contempt Action. When one parent fails to make payments on time or stops making such payments, the other parent can work with a trained Georgia family lawyer to file a contempt action with the court. This type of action compels the non-custodial parent to pay the child support owed or face serious consequences, including fines and possible incarceration.
- Garnishment of Wages. If one parent owes back support payments, the other parent may seek a court-ordered garnishment on the non-paying parent’s wages. Garnishment orders generally work taking monies from the payor’s paycheck or bank account to satisfy the obligation.
- Suspension of Licensee. In some cases, when a parent who has the ability to pay falls behind in making payments, the parent who receives the payments can work with an attorney to ask the court to suspend or deny certain licenses of the non-paying parent, such as a driver’s license, professional license or hunting or fishing license.
- Division of Child Support Services. The Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) also aids parents dealing with unpaid child support. A knowledgeable Georgia family law attorney can explain how the agency works and whether these services may be appropriate for your particular situation.
While it can be difficult to determine what to do when a parent fails to pay the child support your son or daughter needs, a knowledgeable family law attorney can help you evaluate your options and guide you through the process. The attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor understand your frustrations and will work with you to make certain you receive the support you are owed so that you can properly take care of your child. You can schedule a consultation with a family law lawyer in our Marietta, Buckhead, Dunwoody or Alpharetta locations by completing our contact form or by calling our offices at (678) 971-3413.