Children are entitled to the financial contributions of both parents, regardless of their financial situations. When a parent does not pay child support as ordered, the child suffers a disadvantage.
An Atlanta, GA child support enforcement lawyer can help if your co-parent is behind on support. Acting early is the best strategy, and several options exist to help you get current with your payments. Contact a dedicated child support attorney from our firm to discuss your enforcement options or if you cannot pay the child support you owe and face administrative or court actions.
A judge’s order to pay child support is legally enforceable. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 19-7-2, a parent cannot refuse to pay even if the co-parent agrees or does not need the money. The child has a right to both parents’ financial support, and neither parent can waive or change the family court’s order without a judge’s approval. Child support includes money for the child’s food, shelter, clothing, education, and other essentials. In some cases, paying for a child’s health insurance might be part of a parent’s support obligation.
The Division for Child Support Services (DCSS) will help collect child support without charge if your child receives public assistance. DCSS also assists other parents but requires a small payment to open a case.
The DCSS has broad authority to take administrative actions to collect child support. It could take the money out of the non-paying parent’s wages, suspend their driver’s license and other licenses, intercept tax refunds, and attach their bank accounts and other property. However, the DCSS is overburdened, and cases move slowly. An experienced Atlanta, GA attorney can ask a family court to take similar actions as DCSS, and the child support enforcement process usually moves more quickly.
A parent who is owed support can seek back payments even after the child has become an adult. However, they have the best chance of collecting the money if they act as soon as the paying parent falls behind.
If the co-parent has the means to pay child support but is willfully missing or making partial payments, an Atlanta, GA attorney can help you bring a contempt motion to enforce cooperation. This motion asks a judge to find the parent in contempt of family court for failing to pay their child support as agreed. A parent in contempt might face an order to immediately bring their child support up to date, plus pay court fines and your attorney’s fees. In some cases, a judge might order the parent to jail until they pay what they owe.
However, if a parent presents credible evidence showing they do not have the funds to pay child support as ordered, a judge will likely not find them in contempt. The judge might refer the parent to a program to help them get back on their feet. In the meantime, the judge could temporarily modify the parent’s support obligation.
Fathers who cannot pay their child support due to unemployment or underemployment could seek help that might temporarily delay enforcement action against them. Two programs exist to help parents in this position. An Atlanta, GA attorney can help you apply for one of the programs if you face child support enforcement action.
DCSS runs the Fatherhood Program to help non-custodial parents achieve financial stability so that they can support their children. The program offers GED preparation, job training, and other support and could help individuals modify their child support obligation. It also helps parents whose driver’s licenses have been suspended get their driving privileges back.
DCSS runs another program for parents behind on their child support called the Parental Accountability Court Program (PAC). While the Fatherhood Program aims to help parents avoid court, the PAC program provides similar help to parents who are already facing court action due to being behind on child support. This program also offers job training, educational support, drug and alcohol dependency counseling, and other services.
If your co-parent is behind on child support, or if you are behind and want help to get current, an Atlanta, GA child support enforcement lawyer can assist you.
Our firm can help you take the most effective action to ensure your children get the financial support they deserve. Do not allow late payments to pile up. Call to schedule an appointment with a qualified member of our team today.