Child Support Laws in Georgia

by Andrine Redsteer

Georgia's Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services, is responsible for enforcing the state's child support laws; this includes establishing paternity -- if a child's parents aren't married -- collecting child support payments, distributing child support payments and beginning administrative procedures when a non-custodial parent fails to make timely payments according to the terms of the child support order.

Division of Child Support Services

Georgia's Division of Child Support Services enforces the state's child support laws and is responsible for overseeing the child support collection process. Through DCSS, a custodial parent may open a child support case by filing a child support order, get assistance in locating an absent parent and establish paternity. A non-custodial parent who is ordered to pay child support may also seek assistance through DCSS by enrolling in the Fatherhood Program. This program helps non-custodial fathers and mothers by providing assistance in finding full-time employment if making child support payments proves difficult due to economic hardship.

Income Shares Model

In 2007, Georgia revised its child support guidelines to take into account both the custodial parent's income and the non-custodial parent's income; these guidelines are codified in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15. The "income shares" model calculates child support payments based on a combination of both parents' adjusted gross income. This means that after deductions are factored in, such as pre-existing child support orders and self-employment taxes, a determination is made as to the basic child support obligation as expressed in the state's statutes.

Enforcing Payment

If a non-custodial parent fails to make timely child support payments, Georgia's DCSS may seek specific remedies as prescribed by state law. DCSS accepts child support payments through its website or via mail. However, when a non-custodial parent fails to pay by using either one of these avenues, DCSS may attempt to collect using various means pursuant to state law. For example, if a non-custodial parent is behind in payments, DCSS may withhold child support payments by garnishing paychecks, intercepting tax refunds and intercepting lottery winnings.

Imposing Penalties

Georgia's child support laws allow DCSS to impose penalties on non-custodial parents who fail to abide by child support orders. For example, DCSS may file contempt of court actions against a delinquent parent; this may result in jail time. Moreover, DCSS may report a delinquent parent to credit bureaus, suspend or revoke his driver's license, place liens on his real estate and bank accounts, and revoke his passport.