When parents get divorced, they both continue to be responsible for their children’s well-being. While parents may share parenting responsibilities, the children generally reside primarily with one parent and the other parent provides child support. Child support is typically part of the divorce order and, once in place, it cannot be changed except through the court system. But what happens when a parent stops paying child support, or falls behind on payments? Although you might be tempted to take matters into your own hands, there is a legal remedy in place for situations such as this.
Discuss the Matter with Your Ex
One of the first steps to resolving failure to pay child support is communication. Talk to your former spouse to find out what is causing the late or reduced payments. Sometimes you and your ex may be able to come to an agreement about the repayment of past-due support. This may be preferable to going to court, since that will be costly and time-consuming. You may find that your ex is going through a difficult period of time and will soon be able to make support payments on time. If that is the case, you may be able to avoid further action.
Contact Child Support Services
When your former spouse is behind on payments, refuses to pay, or won’t discuss the matter, you can get help from the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). DCSS oversees child support order enforcement. If the parent is not in compliance with the order, there are several options that DCSS may take to enforce the order, such as wage garnishment, revoking driving privileges, taking tax refunds, getting liens on property and assets, or taking other payments that are due to the parent. DCSS will try to obtain the funds in any way that is possible.
Contact a Child Support Attorney
If your ex has not been paying child support regularly, or promised to pay and hasn’t, you may need to seek guidance from an experienced Carrollton family law attorney. When the parent has failed to pay child support that was part of a court order, you can file a motion for contempt. Contempt of court simply means that the person disobeyed a court order. The family court will set a hearing date and both parents must attend. At the hearing, the parent will have an opportunity to explain why the child support was unpaid. If the parent is found guilty of contempt, he could face penalties in addition to the repayment of child support. The penalties could include a jail sentence.
Sometimes a court proceeding may only make the matter worse. If your ex is unable to pay due to losing a job, or because of medical issues, he might petition the court for a reduction in child support. Each case is different, so it is helpful to talk to a qualified attorney to discuss the details of your case. Remember that child support is in place to benefit your child and, therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your child gets the money he or she is entitled to receive. Contact Moffitt Law, LLC for the help you need with child support payments.
Tyler Moffitt is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices Carrollton, LaGrange, and Columbus, GA. He graduated from John Marshall Law School, and has been practicing for several years now. Tyler Moffitt takes great honor in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.