Child Support Enforcement
Although both parents are obligated to support their children, in most divorce cases (or after separation if the parents were never married) one parent will make child support payments.
All too often these payments are not made on a timely basis and the custodial parent is left without the income he or she deserves. It's not an easy process, but child support attorney Lynn Hamilton Johnson can help.
Georgia judges have the authority to punish parents who fail to pay child support as ordered in the final divorce decree. If a court order is in place directing your child’s other parent to pay support and you aren't receiving those payments, we can bring a motion for enforcement in superior court asking the court to issue additional orders and hold the non-paying parent in contempt. If the non-paying parent is found in contempt, the judge can impose fines and even jail time.
The Courts will often work with those who can demonstrate they’re unable to pay, while those who are unwilling can be held in contempt and sent to jail.
A spokesman for the District Attorney's Office said, “All cases are decided on a case-by-case basis with the non-custodial parent having to explain their situation to the judge. Many folks who claim they can’t pay and don’t have a job based on their history and lack of credibility, the judge will find it’s willful and order them to jail. Miraculously, thousands and thousands of dollars will appear to get them out of jail. That happens a lot.”
If you need help finding the right court or forms, call Lynn Hamilton Johnson today.
Division of Child Support Services
In addition to taking the non-paying parent to court, Georgia parents can also seek assistance with obtaining and enforcing child support orders from the Division of Child Support Services of the Georgia Department of Human Services (DCSS). Lynn Hamilton Johnson can contact DCSS on your behalf. *
DCSS services include:
- Establishing and enforcing child support orders or orders for medical support of a child
- Periodically reviewing and modifying (changing) child support orders
- Collecting and distributing support payments
- Locating absent parents
- Establishing paternity, and
- Enforcing orders for alimony as part of a child support enforcement case.
DCSS has many tools available to ensure that parents pay support and maintain medical insurance for children. These include the following:
Income withholding. When a Georgia parent who has been ordered to pay child support is receiving regular payments from a job or from unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits, DCSS can order the employer or the paying agency to withhold the support payment and deposit it directly into the recipient’s bank account or place the payment on a debit card for the support recipient. Georgia businesses are required to report new or returning hires to a state support registry managed by DCSS. A non-custodial parent who isn’t receiving a regular paycheck or benefit check can set up direct transfers of support payments from a bank account.
Liens and seizures. DCSS can collect past due child support payments by filing liens for seizure of property such as a house, a car, a matched bank account, or a lump-sum worker's compensation settlement. DCSS can also intercept lottery winnings of $2,500 or more, and federal or state income tax refunds.
License restrictions. Licensing agencies in charge of granting drivers, professional, occupational, hunting, or fishing licenses in Georgia are required to check an applicant’s child support payment status. An agency can suspend a license, or refuse to issue a new or renewal license for non-payment of support.
Passport denial. A parent who owes or has previously owed past-due child support of $2,500 or more is not eligible to receive an initial or renewal passport from the U.S.. State Department, unless the parent can document that the back support never exceeded $2,500, or that travel outside the country is necessary for employment, a serious medical emergency, or the imminent death of an immediate family member.
Credit Agency Reporting. DCSS will report back support amounts of over $1,000, and sometimes less, to credit reporting agencies.
Civil or criminal contempt. DCSS can also file contempt of court actions, which may result in a fine or a jail sentence.
DCSS also provides services to non-custodial parents. The “Fatherhood Program” helps parents who are having difficulty making child support payments due to unemployment or underemployment with services such as job counseling and job placement.
* Information for this section reprinted from Divorcenet.com.