Navigating the Child Support System in GeorgiaWritten on May 2, 2014
Raising children is difficult even under the best of circumstances. When a couple divorces, or has a child when not living together, parenting can become an even more daunting task. Things like custody and child support become critical issues when children are involved.
Parents are financially responsible for their children until the age of 18 or when they graduate from high school. In Georgia, child support is calculated using a “child support calculator” available from the Georgia Child Support Commission. The child support formula takes several factors into consideration when determining who is going to be responsible for what. Those factors include the income of both parents, who has primary custody, if either parent can get medical insurance for the child at a reasonable cost as well as childcare expenses. Once the child support is ordered by the court, the amount is often deducted from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck.
But what happens when child support isn’t honored? If the money isn’t paid, a judge may find the non-paying parent in contempt of court. The judge could impose a fine, sanctions or even jail time. If the judge does order the individual be taken to jail, that person will have a mug shot taken and be fingerprinted. The judge will most likely order a purge payment that will have to be paid before the person is released from custody. The purge payment may be the total dollars owed or a portion of what’s owed.
There are defenses for not paying support. If you find yourself behind on your payments and fear going to jail, having effective legal counsel is critical. If an individual can prove that not paying child support wasn’t willful, or there exists a legitimate inability to pay, an attorney can argue these facts on your behalf before the court.
There is another side to the issue. What if you are the parent owed the child support and aren’t receiving it? The process to collect support owed to you may vary slightly from county to county in Georgia. The appropriate forms need to be filed with the superior court in the county you live in. Then a hearing is scheduled, usually within 30 days. At that hearing, your legal counsel will argue the facts to the court and the other party will have a chance to respond. It’s ultimately up to the judge to decide how the situation will be resolved.
If you are struggling with child support payment, on either side of the issue, contact The Silverbach Group, LLC for consultation and assistance. You can reach us at 770-635-0334.