The goal of child support is to ensure both parents are contributing to a child’s well-being. It is not a punishment for a non-custodial parent, but sometimes people feel like it is and decide not to pay their child support.
Withholding child support is not only damaging to a child; it is also a legal violation if parties have a court order in place requiring a parent to pay it. If you are dealing with a parent who is not paying what they owe in child support, you should know your options.
Child support enforcement actions in Georgia
If a parent will not pay child support, there are several ways to enforce the court order. In some cases, it could be as simple as having a direct conversation with the delinquent parent and informing them of their legal duty to pay.
If these efforts are unsuccessful, more aggressive measures may be necessary. The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) notes that several actions can get a parent to pay or penalize them for delinquency. Potential enforcement actions include:
- Income withholding
- Enrollment in a parenting program
- Contempt of court action resulting in jail time
- Reporting unpaid child support to credit reporting bureaus
- Filing liens against bank accounts or property
- Suspending licenses, including a driver’s license, professional license and recreational license
These measures can be disruptive, embarrassing and upsetting, but they can be effective.
When delinquency is not willful
Keep in mind that not all parents choose not to pay child support. In some cases, parents cannot make payments due to extenuating circumstances, or they feel that the original order is no longer appropriate or fair.
Should this be the case, the issue may not be with enforcing a court order but modifying it to ensure it reflects current situations.
For example, if your parenting time has changed significantly or the paying parent has lost their job, modifying the support order can be the best solution.
Whatever reason there is behind unpaid child support, parents must take these situations seriously and talk to DCSS or a lawyer to assess the options.