The laws that surround Georgia divorces are not exactly the same as those in other states across the country. For this reason, it is safe to assume that the formulas that govern child support and enforcement of payment are different in Georgia as well. On the contrary, Georgia’s procedures for determining and enforcing child support is quite similar to that of its neighboring states. If you or someone you know is in a position where seeking child support is a reality, the manner in which to do so in Georgia is fairly straightforward.
Parental Obligation to Support Children
Across the United States, there is a presumption that parents have obligations to their children. Simply put, the right of child support belongs to the child – not to either of the parents. Indeed, Georgia public policy – and public policy in other states – finds that parents owe a legal duty to support their children until the minors reach the age of adulthood. The reasoning behind this is so that the state can ensure the children are given the most possible opportunities prior to reaching adulthood. Accordingly, Georgia courts frown down upon parents who try to treat child support payments as a power move and bargaining chip in a divorce.
Generally, child support is established in Georgia one of two ways: by a written court order or through a written agreement between the spouses that the court subsequently agrees to honor. If the spouses are unable to agree on child support terms, a Georgia court will set an amount. The court looks at several factors when making this determination, including, but not limited to, each parent’s current earnings, each parent’s future earning potential, and any medical needs of the child or children. While the state of Georgia does have child support guidelines incorporated into its laws, if the court can justify the reasoning in the divorce decree, it is possible to deviate from these guidelines.
Modifying Child Support
If you receive an unfavorable decision regarding child support or believe you are paying too much in child support, it is possible to modify your Georgia child support payments. Under Georgia law, every two years one party is allowed to request a modification of child support if they want to – no cause is required to make this request. If a party wants to seek a child support modification sooner that the two-year time frame, he or she must show that either (1) the non-custodial parent has had too much or too little visitations or (2) a substantial and involuntary change in circumstances regarding the payor’s income or the child’s needs has occurred.
Of note, failure to pay child support or partial payment of child support can result in contempt of court charges in Georgia. Contempt may lead to fines on top of back pay as well as jail time if the parent continues to refuse to pay child support.
Experienced Georgia Attorneys
Both parents must put their children first – even if they are going through a difficult divorce. It is critical to have an amicable child support agreement put together. The Carrollton family law attorneys at Moffitt Law, LLC can help work on your Georgia child support agreement. Contact us today.