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What is Child Support, and When Does it Occur in Georgia?

Child support is the financial obligation that parents in Georgia have towards their children, regardless of marital status. For the most part, child support is one of the arrangements that parents involved in marital dissolution must make. The Division of Child Support Services is the primary agency responsible for enforcing this statutory obligation. The Division also works with the judiciary and the Child Support Commission to enforce child support payments in Georgia. Records of these cases are mostly available to the public unless sealed by court order or statute.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide: 

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile 
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved 

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary. 

What is Georgia Child Support? 

Child support is the court-ordered payment for the needs of a qualified child (O. C. G. A. § 19–6–15).. In Georgia, both parents pay child support. However, the non-custodial parent pays more than fifty percent of the amount—calculated based on a combined adjusted income and the number of children. On the other hand, the custodial parent pays less than fifty percent of the child support amount.

What Does Child Support Cover in Georgia?

Generally, child support covers the basic needs of a child like food, clothing, education, and housing—all of which are necessary for a healthy and proper upbringing. Nevertheless, per O. C. G. A. § 19–6–15, these costs extend beyond the aforementioned needs to include the following:

  • Health insurance
  • Uninsured health expenses
  • Work-related childcare costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Extraordinary expenses

What is the Average Child Support Payment in Georgia?

It depends on the combined household income. The annual state household income in Georgia is $58,700 per capita, according to the Census Bureau. Using this information, the presumptive average payment for child support is approximately $615.00 per month.

Suffice to say that the amount depends on several factors. These include parents’ gross income, the number of qualified children, the child’s needs, and the standard of living before marital dissolution. Interested persons may use the Georgia Child Support Calculator to get an estimate of the amount due.

Parents may reach a mutual agreement regarding the payable amount while preparing the settlement agreement. If the parents disagree, the court shall decide the payable amount. Georgia uses a shared income model to calculate the amount of child support due to each parent per qualified child. The presiding judge follows guidelines in O. C. G. A. § 19–6–15 for this calculation.

How Do I Apply for Child Support in Georgia?

The Division of Child Support Services provides systematic instructions for applying for child support in Georgia. Generally, the custodial parent must apply at the child support office in the county of residence (see locations).. He/she may also use the online application to accomplish the same objective. Either way, the application costs a non-refundable fee of $25.00. The Division only accepts certified checks or money orders at the time of application.

Upon receiving the application, the Division shall proceed to locate the non-custodial parent and establish paternity. Once the Division confirms paternity, it shall file a support order in court and set up a deductible payment plan. A parent, who breaches a payment agreement, shall bear the civil liabilities for such actions.

How Do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Georgia?

Georgia laws allow parents to seek a modification to child support payments via a petition in court. However, this is only possible under extenuating circumstances not previously considered or foreseen when the court calculated the child support amount. Thus, the primary requirements for modification include:

  • that such extenuating circumstances include where there is a substantial change in either parent’s income, the financial status, or the needs of the child;
  • two years have elapsed since the court declared a final order on a previous petition to modify child support payment by the same parent;

Regarding the latter, Georgia laws allow a parent to seek modification before the statutory window elapsed if a noncustodial parent failed to exercise the court-ordered visitation or exercised a greater amount of visitation. Otherwise, the motion to modify must be due to an involuntary loss of income.

Meanwhile, if there was no court order in place, Georgia laws exempt a parent from paying child support after the child becomes an adult or receives emancipation. Apart from these, only death exempts a parent from paying court-ordered child support after July 1, 1997. 

What is Back Child Support in Georgia?

Back child support refers to missed payments after the court has ordered a non-custodial parent to pay child support. This concept is different from retroactive child support, which refers to a claim for child expenses that a custodial parent incurred after separation and up to the effective date of court-ordered child support. Georgia does not recognize or make provisions for retroactive child support.

How Do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Georgia?

The custodial parent must immediately contact the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to report a defaulting parent or file a petition for an enforcement order in court. The DCSS and the court use methods such as income withholding, suspension of driver’s license, federal tax offset program, and other liens to force a defaulting parent to facilitate this enforcement. Circa 2020, Georgia withheld the first round of stimulus checks of parents who defaulted on child support payments via the Treasury Offset Program (TOP).

Is there a Georgia Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?

No. Per O. C. G. A. § 9–12–60(d), there is no statute of limitation on court-ordered child support after July 1, 1997.

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