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What Happens If You Don't Pay Child Support?

Penalties for Failure to Pay Child Support

If a parent is ordered to pay child support, but fails to do so, the parent receiving the child support payments may file a motion for enforcement, and a judge could hold the parent in contempt. If the Court finds a parent in contempt, the punishment can consist of fines or even jail time. A parent who is not receiving the child support payments he or she should be receiving can also seek enforcement through the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) of the Georgia Department of Human Services.

The DCSS may withhold income (referred to as an Income Deduction Order (IDO)), unemployment benefits, or workers compensation by ordering the employer or paying agency to withhold the support amount and deposit it directly into the recipient's bank account. The DCSS can also file liens for seizure of property such as a house, car, bank account, or lottery winnings, or report back child support amounts over $1,000 to credit reporting agencies.

Failure to pay child support could also result in license restrictions, as licensing agencies in charge of granting driving, occupational, and hunting or fishing licenses are required to check an applicant's child support payment status and may refuse to issue or renew a license.

Lastly, the DCSS may report a parent who owes over $2,500 to the U.S. State Department who may refuse to issue or renew a passport. Georgia case law also reflects the possibility of criminal charges such as criminal non-support or felony abandonment if a parent fails to pay child support.

Age Child Support Ends

A judge will order child support in any custody action with minor children, and the children are eligible to receive financial support from their parents until at least the age of 18 (unless the child dies, is emancipated, married, or upon graduation from high school, up to the age of 20). A potential exception to paying child support occurs if there is a 'split custody' or a joint physical custody arrangement where both parties have a similar income, or if there is a significant parenting time deviation or other deviation—some factors may significantly decrease a party's child support obligation.

Failure to pay court ordered child support could result in any number of the consequences listed above, which could seriously impact one's life and could cause a major legal issue. If you are struggling to make payments, it is important to let DCSS or the court know, so that you may avoid sanctions and harsh penalties. Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Written by: Savannah Lane Orange

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