Parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, even if they don’t live with them. When a parent stops paying the child support they are legally obligated to or reduces child support payments significantly, it can create a stressful situation for the custodial parent, who relies on these payments to help cover the costs of the child’s necessities. State and federal governments have enacted strict laws to enforce child support orders and crackdown on “deadbeat” parents.
In Georgia, child support and payment of the child’s expenses are determined by calculating both parent’s net income. The more money a parent earns, the higher the amount of child support the parent is obligated to pay. The more you make relative to the other parent, the greater percentage of the children’s expenses you will be obligated to pay.
Should you modify the child support agreement?
If your ex later claims he can’t pay, you may need to negotiate a payment plan, modify the child support amount, or go back to court. If a parent suffers a job loss or reduction in income, a court can recalculate child support based on the lower wages.
Before you agree to reduce the amount of child support you receive, you should confirm your ex’s claims are valid and not just an attempt to avoid paying. Ask for copies of his new paycheck or evidence of job loss. If you suspect your ex is trying to avoid his financial obligation by not working or not earning enough, you can request that the court “impute” the other party’s income.
What is an imputed income?
An imputed income is an income that is assigned to a parent by the court. When a parent responsible for paying child support is capable of earning more but simply chooses not to by voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the court impute income
How is imputed income determined?
Imputing income is difficult because you have no physical evidence. Frequently, requests for imputation are based on the other parent not earning an income that they should be able to based on their qualifications. An example would be a person with a law degree and past experience working in a law office working at a minimum wage job.
Factors the court might consider to impute income:
- Past and present employment
- Skills and education
- Tangible assets such as cars and home
- Pursuit of additional education
- Health, and
- Whether the parent is a caretaker of another child or parent.
If you have received a court order directing the other parent to pay child support, a judge can enforce the order and hold the other parent in contempt of the court.