Caring for children can be a challenge, especially in a single-parent household. If you expect child support payments, it’s reasonable to feel frustrated if the other parent is not paying their fair share for your child’s best interests.
There’s no need to feel defeated, though. Learn how to enforce a child support payment in Georgia.
First Steps When an Ex Isn’t Making Child Support Payments
If your ex isn’t making their child support payments, there are some crucial steps to follow to ensure you get what you’re owed. You stand a much better chance of recovering payments if you remember to stay calm and use these steps as a guide.
Call a Child Support Lawyer
Getting accurate legal advice for a sensitive subject like missing child support payments is critical. Not only should you trust someone who works in the legal field to guide you, but you’ll be better protected with the help of a family law attorney.
It’s understandable to feel upset if your ex-partner falls behind in their obligations, but it’s better to express your displeasure with your attorney than your ex directly. Your attorney will know the next steps you need to take to recover your child support payments.
File a Contempt of Court Action
Your attorney can help you file a “contempt of court” action against your ex. This is a court order designed to enforce an existing child support order. This action will report that your ex had been ordered to pay child support, but now they’re intentionally not paying what they should be.
A judge can charge your ex with contempt of court, which is punishable by a fine or a jail sentence. A judge might hold your ex in contempt if they’re intentionally withholding support payments. If a change in circumstances affects their ability to make payments, they may need to modify the payment amounts.
Secure an Income Withholding Order
Parents paying child support will most likely have their payments directly withheld from their paychecks. An income withholding order notifies employers how much money they must withhold from a non-custodial parent’s paycheck to satisfy their child support obligations.
Since 1994, each support order must specify if wages will be withheld or explain why they won’t be held from a paycheck. It’s possible to modify the order to include a withholding order with the help of your attorney.
Work with Georgia’s DCSS
Enforcement resources are available with the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). This organization can help you collect overdue child support payments or connect your child with medical coverage without involving the courts.
You’ll need to supply DCSS with a copy of the support order. They can then help you collect overdue payments using several methods, like:
- Withholding support payments from your ex’s paychecks, unemployment benefits, or workers’ comp.
- Garnishing your ex’s tax refunds from state or federal governments.
- Filing a lien on your ex’s real estate.
- Suspending or revoking a driver’s, professional, or occupational license.
Many of these methods can be done properly with the help of an attorney without the need to contact the DCSS.
Child Support FAQs in Georgia
Are There Repercussions for Not Making Child Support Payments?
Yes, there can be legal and financial ramifications for a parent who does not make child support payments. Besides the withholding or garnishing of income, a parent who doesn’t pay child support could face jail time, a lowered credit score, and, in some instances, they may be denied a passport.
It’s important to note that even if the parent chooses not to make payments, that does not remove their obligation to pay their fair share. The unpaid support will accumulate as “arrears.” In some instances, interest could be added for additional costs.
Are There Programs to Help Parents Make Payments?
If a parent is having difficulty making payments, programs are available through the state to assist them. The Fatherhood Program or the Parental Accountability Court can aid them and give them direction to get back on a payment plan.
What If My Ex Says The Support Amounts Are Too High?
It’s possible your ex isn’t making their payments out of protest; they may think the payment amount could be too high, or they feel they shouldn’t owe that much money for their children. Before they stop making payments, they should decide whether they should ask for an adjustment for the payment amount.
Called a “modification,” it’s possible for parents to ask for a change in child support three years after the order takes effect; they may ask for a modification even sooner if there’s been a “significant change.” That means an involuntary change in employment or income.
If your ex decides they want to change the agreed upon amount of child support paid, be ready to appear in court. You should also keep track of if or when they make payments. They must continue to pay even if they’re applying for a modification.
Why Would Working With a Child Support Lawyer Help Me?
Working with an experienced child support attorney is critical when you’re trying to ensure your family is getting the support it needs. Attorneys can help you look at your case with objective eyes and give you advice that will benefit you and your family.
They’ll have the knowledge necessary to keep you informed and prepared for anything your ex might throw your way. A lawyer will also be able to represent you in court and handle legal communications. These can be heated situations; a lawyer can defuse tension and ensure things are handled proficiently.
Call a Georgia Family Lawyer for Your Child Support Needs
If you’re the primary custodian of minor children, you likely have the right to child support payments. The noncustodial parent has the responsibility to pay for your efforts in caring for your children. If your ex isn’t providing the support you need, you deserve help getting the payments you’re owed.
The Gentry Law Firm, LLC, has helped countless families with their child support disputes over the years. Our founder Attorney William C. Gentry launched this firm with a focus on family health and security. Child support payments are vital to your peace of mind. We will help you fight for what you’re owed.