How to File Contempt of Court on Unpaid Child Support in Georgia

By Tom Streissguth

Although child support is the legal obligation of a non-custodial parent, it often goes unpaid. As the back child support amount increases, the custodial parent can take action to enforce the child support order. This action begins with administrative orders from the Georgia Division of Child Support Services and ends with a petition for contempt of court which, if successful, allows the court to sanction, fine and jail the non-custodial parent.

Georgia Law and Child Support

Any divorce action involving the custody of minor children will involve a marital settlement agreement as well as child support order. Georgia's child support enforcement law is set out in Title 19, Chapter 6 of the 2010 Georgia Statutes. The support order is a binding obligation on the non-custodial parent to make regular child support payments according to the state's guidelines.

Georgia Child Support Services

The Division of Child Support Services, a division of the Georgia Department of Human Services, assists custodial parents in the collection of past-due child support. DCSS collects child support from the non-custodial parent and distributes its collections to the custodial parent according to the child support order incorporated into the divorce decree. DCSS helps enforce a child support order through various means, including garnishment of paychecks or government benefits, interception of tax refunds and lottery winnings, suspension or revocation of driver's licenses, or the denial of a passport application. If these actions fail to resolve the arrearage, the custodial parent may take further action by filing a petition for contempt of court.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Legal Recourse

A petition for contempt is a request to a court to find that someone has failed to obey a court order, such as a child support order. It is a serious legal action that will result in a public hearing and, if granted, enforcement by the court system, including possible fines and jail sentences for the delinquent non-custodial parent.

Filing a Contempt Petition

You must file a petition for contempt in the county where the non-custodial parent resides. The blank petition form is available from the clerk of court; many courts make these forms available for download on their websites. Fill in the form with the required information, including your name as the petitioner and the non-custodial parent's name as the respondent. You will also need the divorce case number and date and a copy of the final decree and child support order as evidence attachments. The petition for contempt form will have check boxes; for child support enforcement, you check the appropriate box and enter the amount of child support required and the amount of the arrearage.

Verification and Rule Nisi

Georgia court procedure also requires that a contempt petition is verified. You verify a petition by swearing to the facts, as stated in the petition, under oath before a court clerk or notary public and then sign the verification form. After you file the petition for contempt and verification, the clerk will issue a "rule nisi," which is an order for the petitioner and respondent to appear before a judge for a hearing at a specified time and date.

Service

You must have the petition for contempt, verification and rule nisi served on the respondent, either by certified private process server or a law-enforcement agency. Georgia law and court rules require service within a limited time; if you fail to have the petition served, you may file for an extension of this deadline. After service has been accomplished, you will receive a return of service which you then must file along with a certificate of service with the clerk.

Hearing and Final Order

You must attend the hearing scheduled by the clerk for the petition of contempt. A judge or magistrate will hear argument from the petitioner and the respondent then rule on the petition. The clerk of court will draw up and have signed a final order on the petition which, if granted, will result in fines, jail time or garnishment of wages to satisfy the child support arrearage.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Collect Unpaid Alimony in California

References

Resources

Related articles

Changing a Child's Name in Ohio

The state of Ohio allows you to petition for a change of legal name for a minor child. The process involves the filing of a petition in the county court where the child resides. There are few restrictions, and the state allows the change for any reason a parent or legal guardian deems sufficient, including religious beliefs. However, Ohio law bars any name changes for fraudulent purposes.

Is There a Statute on Collecting Child Support in Michigan?

Section 722.3 of the Michigan Compiled Laws is the statute that obligates parents to support their minor children. Michigan courts may order a non-custodial parent to pay the custodial parent support for the care of their minor child. The goal of child support in Michigan is not to punish parents but rather to help parents establish a financial partnership for the sake of their minor children. Child support can include payment of the minor child's health care, child care and educational expenses.

Timeframe for Contesting a Will in Virginia

If you would like to contest a Virginia will, you must file your objections with the clerk of court where the will has been admitted to probate. State law sets out a statute of limitations for this procedure, which in some cases can be waived or extended. To comply with the law and carry out the process according to the rules of the court, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced estate or probate attorney.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

California Laws on the Interception of a Tax Refund for Child Support Arrears

If you have a child support order under California law, you have the right to have the order enforced through tax ...

Child Support Laws in Washington, DC

In the District of Columbia, child support laws are enforced by the Child Support Services division of the Office of ...

Penalties for Child Support Arrears in California

Falling behind in child support payments under a divorce order can lead to the initiation of enforcement proceedings ...

Child Support Laws in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee provides for child support payments in cases where couples with minor children are divorcing. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED