Children do not have the capacity to file a lawsuit on their own. If a child has a legal claim, a parent, legal guardian, or court-appointed party must file the lawsuit on behalf of the child. Therefore, a child cannot sue for child support in Georgia.

However, that does not mean that there are no legal options available for getting child support benefits in Georgia. An experienced family lawyer can help you with your particular case. But in the meantime, read on to learn more about how child support works in the state so that you can assert your legal rights going forward. 

Child Support Payments in the State of Georgia

Either parent can open a child support collection case with the Georgia Division of Child Support Services.

It is public policy for parents to provide adequate financial support for their children. Generally, a parent is legally obligated to support their child until the child is emancipated. 

Emancipation is usually when the child turns 18 years old or completes high school (up to 20 years old). However, a child can be emancipated when they get married, join the military, or a court orders emancipation. 

A parent cannot waive a child’s right to receive child support. Child support payments are for the child’s benefit, even though the custodial parent receives the payments and decides how to use the money. 

Child support is intended to pay for a child’s basic necessities. For example, a parent might use child support payments for:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Clothing
  • Special needs
  • Child care
  • Health care

A parent can also use child support payments to cover the expenses for a child’s extra-curricular activities, hobbies, and entertainment. Parents are not required to provide an accounting of how they use the child support payments. They are expected to use child support for the benefit of the child.

If you believe your child’s other parent is using child support for their benefit while neglecting your child’s needs, talk with a Lawrenceville child support lawyer. An attorney can advise you about your legal options, including suing for sole custody of your child.

What Happens if a Parent Does Not Pay Child Support Payments in Lawrenceville, GA?

A parent who does not pay their child support payments can face several penalties, including:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Contempt of court
  • Jail time
  • Driver’s license suspension

However, there could be reasons why a parent is not paying child support payments. A child support lawyer can help a parent collect child support or prepare a defense to contempt actions for failing to pay child support. 

How Are Child Support Payments Calculated in Georgia?

Georgia uses child support guidelines to calculate child support payments. The child support calculator generates a presumptive amount of child support payments based on the parent’s income, the number of children to be supported, and other relevant information.

However, the court can deviate from the presumptive child support payments. For example, a judge must consider work-related childcare costs and health insurance premiums when ordering an amount for child support obligations.

A judge can also consider other factors to increase or decrease a parent’s child support obligation, including but not limited to:

  • The amount of parenting time each parent spends with the child
  • Life insurance premiums paid by each parent
  • The cost of the child’s extra-curricular activities
  • Alimony payments received or paid
  • Private school tuition 
  • Travel expenses incurred by a parent to exercise their court-ordered visitation 
  • Whether the non-custodial parent pays some or all of the mortgage payments or lease payments where the custodial parent and child live
  • Extraordinary expenses for the child

Parents can also work together to determine how some expenses impact child support payments. For example, the parents might ask the court to lower the child support payments because the non-custodial parent pays child care expenses direct from an FSA through their employer. 

A Lawrenceville child support attorney can review your situation during a free consultation and advise you how much you could expect to pay or receive for child support payments. 

Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.