What happens if I cannot pay my child support?

If you are facing an inability to pay your child support in Georgia, you may seek to modify your child support order, but petitioning the court as soon as you see a change in circumstances can help you avoid delinquency.

As Georgia’s Division of Child Support Services explains, modifications to child support orders do not apply retroactively, and Georgia may pursue child support arrears through income garnishment or even pressure you with punitive measures.

Child support delinquency

Georgia considers a child support case delinquent whenever “unpaid support is equal to or greater than the monthly support ordered amount.” But Child Support Services does not contact you over delinquency until your case has been delinquent for 30 days.

After 60-days, the state may send a notice threatening to suspend your driver’s or professional license. Indeed, it seems counterintuitive that the state may force you to pay outstanding debt by removing your ability to work.

Additionally, the state may pursue collection by referring you to a collections agency or by garnishing your wages, tax refunds or other income such as lottery winnings.

Child support order modifications

Seeking a child support modification early can help you avoid these consequences.

It is important to provide sufficient documentation of your change in financial circumstances and to know your legal options. Georgia uses a specific schedule of child support guidelines to make child support decisions — the same guidelines they used to determine the initial child support order. But these decisions rely primarily on the income of each parent at the time of the order or modification request.

Additionally, courts may deviate from these guidelines at their discretion. Representing your case knowledgeably and clearly could pay off substantially in the long run.