Caring for a child in a divided household can be challenging. Both parents have an obligation to care for their shared children. If you are the parent with primary custody, you may expect child support from the non-custodial parent.
But how do those payments start? How can you secure the payments necessary to benefit your child? Learn more about Georgia’s child support system and how to apply for your support payments.
Getting Started: Child Support in Georgia
When you’re seeking financial support from your child’s other parent, there are critical steps to follow to help ensure you succeed. Knowing where to start is necessary before you dive into the process.
Georgia child support is handled by the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). You’ll apply with them: they’ll either approve or reject it, and you’ll be able to collect child support payments.
What Information is Necessary to Apply for Child Support?
To apply for child support in Georgia, you must show that either you or the other parent are living in the state. You will need personal information about you or your ex: address, income, and anything else that can support your request.
There are for people in different circumstances to apply for child support. Make sure you find the correct form for your situation, otherwise, you may have to repeat the application process.
Applying for Child Support with the DCSS
Once you have your application ready, you can file with the DCSS. You’ll be required to pay a $25 non-refundable application fee. This agency will review your application, checking that everything is correct.
Your application will disclose your financial situation, the basis of your request, your child’s parentage, and how you’d like to receive your child support payments.
Processing the Child Support Application
The DCSS will process your application once you’ve paid for and submitted it. They’ll verify the child’s parentage. In Georgia, if paternity is not established before you seek child support, the DCSS must test the father to ensure they are biologically related to the child. A father is legitimated if the child was born during a marriage; if they weren’t, the father must be legitimated.
DCSS will calculate the child support amount using an established formula. The agency will serve the child’s other parent with the child support order. This can be a difficult step because they mighttry to avoid service. Stick with it: the DCSS will continue trying to serve them until they receive the necessary paperwork. Once they’ve been served, a court hearing will be scheduled: check with the agency if you must attend.
Taking the Matter to a Hearing
The court hearing is your child’s other parent’s chance to dispute their obligation to pay child support or to argue they shouldn’t pay as much as the DCSS has calculated. You may not need to appear at this hearing, but check with your attorney first.
The parent being served can speak against the order. They can question if they’re really the child’s parent, if they can afford the ordered amount, or if you truly require child support.
This hearing is the served parent’s chance to present evidence to support their side of the story. They may show a conflicting paternity report, proof of a low income, or proof of your assets. The court will review both sides and make a decision about the support order.
Support Granted: Enforcing Child Support
If your support order is granted, the court finds you are entitled to child support payments. The DCSS will instruct your child’s other parent on their obligations, and the agency will be responsible for enforcing this order.
Your ex could be held in contempt if they refuse to make payments or aren’t paying the full amount. You must report these issues to the DCSS and the agency will take care of it.
Georgia Child Support Questions
How Long Does the Child Support Application Process Take?
The timeline can vary from case-to-case, but once the noncustodial parent is found and served, the DCSS has 90 days to establish a court order. Your case could be affected by the court’s schedule and availability.
How Long Until I Start Receiving Child Support Payments?
Once an order is established, the initial payment is sent to DCSS. You can expect payment anywhere between four to six weeks. You can check payment history and status on the DCSS portal.
Why Should I Hire a Georgia Family Law Attorney?
Child support can stress already contentious divorce proceedings. They can be a point of dispute in even the best of situations. And although the DCSS will have an attorney working with you, they will be representing the state. Your interests are looked after, but you should hire an experienced family law attorney to help you throughout the Georgia child support process.
Your attorney will be able to investigate your side, uncover information that can affect your monthly support payments, and negotiate with your ex’s legal representative to secure the money you need to care for your child.
Call a Cobb County Child Support Lawyer Now
If you’re seeking payments from an ex to help care for your child, you need legal assistance from someone who understands what’s at stake. The Gentry Law Firm, LLC, knows that child support payments can mean the difference to a child’s comfortable living and feeling left behind. Successfully applying for these payments can feel daunting alone.
We’re here to help you get the payments you need to support your child. Your child’s other payment has an obligation to help care for their child, especially when you’re the primary custodian. We have helped countless clients in similar situations secure support payments. Let us help you file.