Court-ordered child support is a serious financial obligation. The state recognizes a child’s right to be financially supported by both parents, even if they are no longer together. Missing child support payments can result in severe consequences if the problem is ongoing or frequent. 

Missing a single child support payment does not typically result in the same types of consequences unless the other parent reports the missed payment to the court or the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Child Support Services and you are behind at the time of a hearing. 

If you are struggling to meet your obligations, this can indicate that you may need to modify your child support order. A family lawyer can help. 

The Potential Consequences of Not Paying Child Support in Georgia

The Georgia Division of Child Support Services lists the following enforcement actions that can be taken against a parent who is not meeting their court-ordered child support obligations:

  • Filing a contempt of court action against the parent, which can result in jail time, a fine, or both
  • Enrolling the parent in the Fatherhood Program or the Parental Accountability Court Program
  • Withholding child support payments from paychecks, unemployment checks, or workers’ compensation benefits
  • Intercepting federal or state income tax refunds
  • Intercepting lottery winnings of more than $2,500
  • Filing liens against the parent’s property, including bank accounts and lump sum settlements
  • Reporting the parent’s delinquent payments to credit bureaus
  • Suspending or revoking the parent’s driver’s license, professional license, or hunting or fishing license
  • Denying someone’s passport if they owe more than $2,500

It is also important to note that it is considered a crime in Georgia to fail to support your child. This is generally a misdemeanor offense, but it is classified as a felony when a parent reaches the third offense for failing to provide support or leaves the state. The maximum penalty is three years imprisonment. 

What To Do If You Are Going To Miss a Child Support Payment 

If you cannot make your child support payment, there are some steps that you can take to mitigate the situation, including:

  • Explaining to the other parent why you have to miss the payment so they will not be surprised
  • Making part of the payment even if you cannot make all of it 
  • Catching up on any missed payments before any hearing on your case

You should also contact an experienced family attorney for guidance and advice. 

Modifying a Georgia Child Support Order

If you are experiencing difficulty meeting your child support obligations, you may be able to ask the court to modify the child support order so that payments will be lowered. 

However, Georgia has a two-year rule for child support modifications. It generally requires you to wait two years since the last change to the child support order before you can ask for another change. There are exceptions, such as if there have been substantial changes in financial circumstances since the last change or the current order is not fair or equitable. 

You can seek to modify a child support order by:

  • Filing a petition with the court asking for the change, explaining the reason for it, and stating the amount of support you think is appropriate 
  • Providing documentation to support your statements
  • Attending the hearing and giving testimony, as necessary

The court considers various factors when determining whether to modify an existing child support order, such as the current income and financial resources of both parents, the child’s financial needs, and the reasons why the modification is requested.

Contact a Georgia Child Support Attorney For Help Modifying Your Obligations 

We understand that you want what is best for your child while also wanting to ensure that you can take care of your own basic needs. We can meet with you to discuss your situation and develop a cost-effective solution to resolve the matter. We have nearly a decade of experience in family law we can put to use. Contact us today for your confidential consultation. 

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 844-5866 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.