You and your children depend on your child support to make ends meet. When you do not receive the child support that the Court has ordered, it can cause severe financial problems for your family. Thankfully, you have several options to force the other parent to pay court-ordered child support.
Filing a Contempt of Court Action
You can file contempt of court action to get the other parent to pay support that is past due. A child support order is an order from the court; the court has the power to enforce its orders through contempt. If the parent is found to have violated the court order, then the Court can issue sanctions. Penalties may include jail time. Importantly, an incarcerated parent is still responsible for their ongoing child support obligations. Courts have often found that the threat of incarceration can be a strong motivator to get a parent to pay the child support that is due.
Get an Income Withholding Order
Obtaining child support consistently can be easier when it is automatically deducted from the other parent’s paycheck. The original order for child support can have an income deduction clause, which requires the employer to deduct child support from the other parent’s paycheck.
In fact, as of 1994, every support order in Georgia must have a provision that allows you to have wages withheld or a reason why that is not appropriate. If you do not have this type of clause because it was not appropriate at the time, you can request an income withholding order once it becomes clear that the parent is not going to pay in a timely manner. Your family law attorney can help you with this process.
Contact the Georgia Department of Human Resources
The state of Georgia offers child support enforcement services through the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). This department can collect overdue child support on your behalf. They can also help your children obtain medical coverage without having to ask the court for help.
You should provide DCSS with a copy of your child support order so they know and understand the support payments you should be receiving. DCSS can help you collect by:
- Withholding child support from a paycheck, unemployment benefits, and workers’ compensation benefits
- Garnishing tax refunds from both the federal and state government
- Filing liens on real property
- Suspending or revoking a driver’s license or professional or occupational license
You can also do many of these things privately as well. For example, your attorney may be able to put a lien on the other parent’s property without involving the DCSS.
Read more about The Basics of Child Support
Obtain a Writ of Fieri Facias
In some situations, you can ask the court to issue a Writ of Fieri Facias (often referred to as a fi. fa.) in any county where the other parent has property. Once the fi. fa. is issued, if you record it in the property records, it acts as a lien on real estate owned by the parent that owes child support, and you may even be able to levy on personal property.
File a Garnishment
You can also start garnishment proceedings if the other parent is at least 30 days behind on his or her child support payments. You can garnish paychecks, Social Security benefits, and other sources of income. You can also garnish bank accounts, if you know where the obligated parent has accounts.