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Turning It Over To the Government
Even if the issue of child support has been settled in your case, by virtue of an agreement with your co-parent or a court order mandating child support, custodial parents still may face hardships in ensuring that their child support orders are actually complied with by the other parent. In these circumstances, a custodial parent may seek government assistance in the enforcement of the order.
In Georgia, the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is the governmental agency that is designed to provide Georgia families with assistance with locating non-custodial parents, confirming paternity, establishing and enforcing child support orders, and collecting and distributing payments. DCSS also provides other services designed to promote the involvement of non-custodial parents in the lives of their children.
Specifically, if you are a custodial parent, DCSS may provide the following assistance to you:
- Location of the noncustodial parent for child support purposes;
- Establishment of paternity for child support purposes;
- Establishment of a child support order;
- Modification of a child support order. You may be required to show a significant change in circumstances as required by Georgia Law before a modification will occur;
- Enforcement of a child support order, including medical support, using all applicable means;
- Collection and distribution of amounts collected;
- Collection of spousal support only when included in an order for child support and the child has not been emancipated;
- Calculate and collect interest on overdue child support pursuant to a support order originated in Georgia.
Practice Pointer - DCSS Also Helps Non-Custodial Parents
If you are a non-custodial parent, you may also seek the aid of DCSS in order to modify your existing child support order if your or your co-parent’s circumstances have changed to the extent that a modification of child support is warranted and necessary. Read more about modifying child support here.
It is most often the case that parents seek the services of DCSS in order to enforce a pre-exiting child support order or to collect owing or past due child support. DCSS may enforce an existing order by:
- Withholding child support from paychecks, unemployment or weekly worker's compensation benefits.
- Intercepting federal and/or state income tax refunds.
- Reporting parents delinquent in child support payments to credit bureaus.
- Suspending or revoking the parent’s drivers, professional, occupational hunting or fishing licenses for failure to pay child support.
- Intercepting lottery winnings of more than $2,500.
- Filing contempt of court actions.
- Filing liens to seize bank accounts, lump sum worker's compensation settlements and real or personal property.
- Denying, suspending or revoking the passport of someone who owes more than $2,500 in child support.
DCSS may also aid custodial parents by collecting and dispersing child support payments. In fact, it may be preferable for some parents for DCSS to act as the catalyst between the parents in order to minimize the contact between the two parents, if their relationship is contentious. Child support payments may either be sent to DCSS by the obligated parent for disbursement or the payments may be automatically deducted from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck via a garnishment or income deduction order.
Once collected, DCSS sends support payments to the custodial parent. Payments are made to the custodial parent by applying them to a DCSS issued Debit Card or by direct deposit into the custodial parent’s bank account. If there is overdue support owing to the custodial parent, DCSS may collect this overdue support by intercepting the noncustodial parent’s Federal and State tax refunds or lottery winnings.
In addition to the services mentioned above, in Georgia, both parents have the right to ask DCSS to review a child support order three years after the order becomes effective unless a substantial change in circumstances can be shown for orders less than three years old. The request must be made in writing to the child support office handling the case. The review may result in DCSS recommending that the child support amount should be less, more or stay the same. If you would like to seek the aid of DCSS, you may contact their office at 1-877-GA-DHS-GO (1-877-423-4746).