Child support in Georgia follows a detailed outline created by the Georgia Legislature. When a court decides that a parent must pay child support, the amount the parent must pay is determined by applying the "child support obligation table," which is maintained by the Georgia Child Support Commission. Courts have less discretion in child support cases than they have in spousal support because of these fixed guidelines. Courts are more or less bound to the numbers specified in the tables.
Some things to keep in mind about child support:
- The child support formula is based on a sliding scale. The scale considers the ages of children involved, any special needs the children have, the time the parents spend with the children, and the parents' income.
- Visitation and child support. Visitation and child support are separate matters - the one is not generally dependent on the other.
- Termination of child support. Child support usually terminates in Georgia at age 18. The law does not require support for college but parents can independently agree to college support, and if they do it is binding under contract law. Courts can (but are not required to) extend support to age 20 if a child is still in high school at that age.
- Child support modification. Generally a child support order will be modified only if there is some substantial and material change in circumstances that justifies the change.
- Out-of-State Payment of Child Support. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) provides a means to recover child support from a non-resident of Georgia. It's usually best to file a petition to recover in the child's home state.
WHen A Parent Does Not Pay Child Support
There are several remedies for non-payment of child support.
- Contempt, including jail time, until payments are made current. The problem with jailing for non-payment is that it is hard for a parent who is in jail to pay child support; it's even possible that a parent who has income will lose the job and therefore lose the income if they are jailed.
- Judgement, which basically turns the parent to whom money is owed into a creditor.
- Garnishment of wages, which is usually accomplished through the Department of Family and Children's Services.
- Awarding of attorney's fees, for bringing whatever action is necessary to enforce the child support order.
- Automatic wage withholding
- Interception of tax refunds
- Child Support Recovery Act, which provides some collection services
- non-renewal of some occupational and professional licenses until payment is current.
For any of these remedies, court action is usually required. It is recommended that you seek the advice and assistance of an attorney. Divis Law can help you collect the child support you need to take care of your children. Contact us today.