Many Marietta parents who get behind on paying child support obligations may find that the amount owed quickly adds up, looking like an insurmountable debt. In one instance, a father’s overdue support obligation to his five children reached a total of approximately $80,000. Not surprisingly, paying all of it at once and making his current payment was not a realistic prospect.

If this were to happen in Georgia, it is possible that the father would find himself arrested and sent to jail, making it even more difficult to earn enough to pay down his arrears and make future payments. Outside of Georgia, however, authorities sometimes experiment with amnesty plans. Amnesty plans allow parents with huge missed support obligations to feel comfortable coming forward and arranging to make installment payments without punitive penalties.

Without such a plan, sometimes parents owing such huge amounts of back child support wind up incarcerated. The intent is to deter them and others from missing or ignoring child support obligations, but many question the practical result, as an incarcerated parent is unlikely to be able to make any payments. It may be beneficial to explore similar amnesty installment payment plans to help Georgia parents who owe money on their child support make manageable payments and avoid going to jail.

The way the program works is that parents owing back support can voluntarily turn themselves in without fear of outstanding arrest warrants for non-payment sending them to jail. In instances where there have been collateral consequences of non-payment, such as suspension of a driver’s license, reinstatement is offered to aid the parent in being able to drive to work to earn money and begin to pay at least part of their obligation.

There may be reasons for non-payment of child support beyond a parent’s control, such as job loss, illness or injury, or other difficult problems. The approach of the amnesty program is to try to work with the noncustodial parents to help them resolve such problems and begin making payments.

Source: MSNBC, “Child support amnesty draws large crowd,” Aug. 24, 2012

Visit our child support page to learn more about child support obligations in Georgia.