When parents live apart, the noncustodial parent is required to pay child support to the custodial parent. Although many noncustodial parents are willing to financially support their children, the fear of unreasonable child support payments can cause plenty of anxiety. Meanwhile, many custodial parents worry about the noncustodial parent not paying their child support.
The family law attorneys with the Don Turner Legal Team are here to help you with your child support situation. We can help ensure that your child support situation is handled correctly, whether you are paying or receiving child support. This means making sure all income is accounted for and net income is calculated correctly, as well as enforcing child support orders if necessary.How is Child Support Calculated?
Under Georgia law, noncustodial parents are required to pay a certain amount of child support to the custodial parent. This amount can come in the form of weekly or monthly payments and is meant to cover the child's living expenses. This support can continue until the child dies, reaches the age of 18, becomes legally emancipated from their parents, graduates high school, or joins the military.
In order to calculate the amount of child support owed, Georgia determines how much each parent would presumably be required to pay by determining their gross monthly income, which includes any sources of income they receive. Once this is determined, both parents' monthly incomes are added together and compared with a chart which determines basic child support obligations based on combined monthly incomes and the number of children requiring support.
This amount is then divided based on each parent's contribution to the combined amount of monthly income. For example, if the non-custodial parent made 75 percent of the combined gross income, they would be required to pay the custodial parent 75 percent of the combined basic child support obligation, as laid out in Georgia's basic child support obligation table.
The amount of basic child support obligation can then be adjusted in order to account for special situations or other payments one parent may be making. These include but are not limited to a child's medical and educational costs, the ages of the children, shared physical custody arrangements, one parent's obligations to support another household, and a parent's medical expenses.What If One Parent Doesn't Pay Their Child Support?
Under Georgia law, noncustodial parents are required to regularly pay their child support on time. Although many noncustodial parents are diligent about paying their child support, they may fall behind in making said payments, and there are some deadbeat parents who may avoid paying entirely. Fortunately, you have a number of legal tools at your disposal if this happens.
If you already have a case with the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), you can contact the case manager assigned to you for assistance. If you are trying to enforce an existing child support order, make sure to have a copy of the original. If needed, you can obtain a copy of this order for the Clerk of Court.
DCSS has authority to collect overdue child support in a variety of ways. This includes but is not limited to withholding child support from paychecks, garnishing worker's compensation benefits, suspending or revoking the licenses of parents who are over 60 days behind in their child support payments, and making non-compliance with child support orders a parole violation.
Alternatively, you can file a contempt action with the court. If the non-custodial parent is ruled to be in contempt of court, they may be required to pay additional fines or serve jail time. Note that they will be responsible for paying child support even while incarcerated. Contact our experienced family lawyers today if you need help enforcing a child support order or filing a contempt action.What If I Can't Pay My Child Support?
If you are a non-custodial parent who is having difficulty making their child support payments, you can petition the court for a modification to these payments. In order to request a modification, you must show a change in long-term conditions that affects your ability to make your payments. Please see our Modification page for more details on the rules for obtaining a modification.
Alternatively, the judge may order you into the Fatherhood Program. This program works with non-custodial parents who lack the ability to pay child support owed, in order to help them avoid having to appear before a judge. The Fatherhood Program aims to help non-custodial parents achieve self-sufficiency by assisting with job training and placement, volunteer opportunities, and GED enrollment. It also encourages non-custodial parents to be more involved in the lives of their children.