Except in cases of emancipation, parents have a legal obligation to support their minor children. After a divorce, the noncustodial parent is often assigned a monthly child support payment by the court. 

The specific amount of child support designated is based on several factors, including the gross income of each parent. It is designed to help the child maintain a reasonable and fair quality of life. 

When a parent refuses to or cannot make their monthly payments, back pay begins to accrue. In court, this back pay is known as child support arrears. 

In the state of Georgia, there are more than 495,000 children affected by child support orders. If your child is a member of this growing group, you know how important and beneficial child support can be. And if the child’s other parent is in arrears, you may have questions about how to move forward. 

Below, we’ve outlined a few of the common questions we receive about child support arrears. We hope this information will help you better understand your child’s rights, as well as your legal options.

What Happens When a Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support?

When the non-custodial parent is in arrears, the court may enforce payment through any of these means:

  • Filing a lien on one or more bank accounts
  • Withdrawing the amount from paychecks or tax refunds
  • Filing an action of contempt of court
  • Suspending the parent’s driver’s license and/or passport

Child support payments are enforced by the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). The DCSS is a division of The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) and receives funding from both the federal and state government.

Are There Resources for Parents Who Are Struggling to Pay Child Support?

Sometimes, a noncustodial parent wants to support their child but struggles to make payments. In these cases, the state of Georgia offers a few helpful resources.

The Fatherhood Program

The Fatherhood Program was established in 1997 as a resource for Georgia noncustodial parents who fall behind on child support payments. It offers education and services to help these parents achieve self-sufficiency.

Specifically, the Fatherhood Program offers these services:

  • Child support services
  • A path to driver’s license reinstatement
  • Job training and placement
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • GED enrollment

Participation in the program is, of course, voluntary. With that being said, once enrolled, the parent must comply with a range of requirements—including making child support payments on time. 

The Homeless Veterans Initiative

For veterans, the Fatherhood Program can work collaboratively with the Legal Aid and Veteran Affairs department. These combined services are known as the Homeless Veterans Initiative. 

The Enhanced Transition Jobs Development Grant

In certain areas, Goodwill Industries and the US Department of Labor provide subsidized employment for noncustodial parents. 

Does Interest Accrue on Child Support Arrears?

Missed child support payments will begin to accrue interest. The rate is 7% interest per year, starting 30 days from the date of the missed payment.

What Happens in Cases of Bankruptcy?

Child support arrears cannot be discharged via Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or any other form of bankruptcy. Until the bill is paid in full or gets waived by the custodial parent, it does not go away.

How Can I Collect Child Support Arrears?

If you are the custodial parent and are waiting on past-due child support, your best option is to consult with a qualified lawyer. Some legal guidance can help you to seek collection, issue writs of execution, and apply pressure via the court system. 

For more information, call our family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to us online by visiting our contact us page today.