New Georgia Child Support Laws

New Georgia Child Support Laws

Child Support Laws in Georgia 2024

This article discusses Georgia Child Support Laws regarding calculating payments, support modifications, enforcement, collections, and how to change support payment amounts.

How is Child Support Calculated in Georgia

In Georgia, child support payment amounts are calculated based on the incomes of both parents and applied to a table of base support amounts. You can visit the Judicial Council of Georgia website to use a Free Georgia Child Support Calculator. Per their website, “The Georgia Child Support Calculator has been developed and made available by the Georgia Child Support Commission as the official calculator for Georgia’s Child Support Guidelines statute found at O.C.G.A. §19-6-15. Information entered in the calculator is used to determine a presumptive amount of child support that may be deviated from to reach a final child support amount.”1

To get a better explanantion of how monthly support amounts are calculated, you should visit the article entitled How to Calculate Child Support in Georgia. Per the article, “Determining the amount of child support payments in Georgia is based on specific guidelines within an “Income Shares Model”. The model to calculate child support involves considering the incomes of each parent, and then applying several factors. Updates to child support laws are periodically done to improve the fairness in determining child support obligations.”2

Modification of Child Support

Support Payment Modification is a hot topic throughout the time children are growing up. A request for a decree modification may be made only once every two years. For example, if your divorce was made final in June of 2022, you cannot file for a modification until at least July of 2024. Either parent can file for a modification to change support payment amounts, or formally end child support when children become of legal age.

Increasing and Decreasing Child Support Payments

Monthly support payment amounts can be increased if the custodial parent can prove the situation of the non-custodial parent has dramatically improved (i.e., substantial income increase, wins a lottery, receives an inheritance, etc.). The non-custodial parent may be able to get payment amounts decreased if they can prove chronic financial hardship (i.e., loss of job beyond their control, unable to work due to disability, etc.).

When conditions can be proven to directly impact the “need for” or “ability to pay” financial support, it may be wise to file a child support modification.

Child Support Enforcement & Collections

If you are having problems with a parent not paying child support you have a few option. Notably these are:

  • Peaceful Conversation Child support is for the welfare of minor children. It is not a form of punishment. If you can convey to your ex that paying child support is appreciated and required, it may make a difference. If not, in a non-threatening manner, advise tham that your only option is to utilize a legal channel to collect child support. Hopefully, they will correct the situation.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer contact the Department of Human Services, Division of Child Support Services. This is the State agency that handles child support issues. They offer enforcement services at little or no cost to consumers.Per their website, “All Georgia families have access to these services, which include assistance with locating Non-Custodial Parents, confirming paternity, establishing and enforcing child support and medical support orders, and collecting and distributing payments.”3
  • If you can afford a lawyer you can get faster service and more personalized service. You will have a dedicated attorney focused on your case. If you hire a local lawyer you will benefit from the professional relationships they have with members of the court system. You do not need to re-hire your original divorce attorney to file a motion for contempt. Your family law attorney can file paperwork and represent you in any court appearances.

Contempt For Non-Payment Of Support

Occasionally being slightly late on a support payment is rarely going to cause a legal problem. There will be legal problems if a person is habitually delinquent or refuses to make court-ordered payments. Failure to pay any court-mandated support is cause for arrest on charges of contempt of court. The penalties for not paying support payments can include fines and jail time – and the amount of support in arrears will still have to be paid.

Whether you need to know how file a motion for contempt or defend yourself from contempt charges, our law firm can help you.

How Much Back Child Support is a Felony in Georgia

Misdemeanor If the non-custodial parent is more than 30 days past due on payments they can be charged with the offense of non-support (abandonment). This could result in minor jail time, fines, and a requirement to pay all overdue support payments, and other penalties.

Felony If the non-custodial parent moves out of state to avoid paying child support, or they are guilty of a third offense for failure to pay support, they can be charged with a felony. Penalties for this felony can include fines, State incarceration for one to three years, and a requirement to pay all unpaid support.

Federal Charges – the Deadbeat Parent Punishment Act

In 1992, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA) 4. This Act made it a federal misdemeanor crime to willfully fail to pay child support to a minor child that lives in another State.

Fast forward to 1998, the Act was amended with the The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DDPA) 5. The Deadbeat Parent Punishment Act makes it a federal felony crime for a parent to move to another state to avoid paying child support. If the non-custodial parent owes over $10,000, or is delinquent by more than two years, they face the potential of up to two years in prison, probation after release, fines, and a requirement to pay all overdue payments. Any federal charges are in addition to State criminal charges for not paying child support.

To learn more about child support laws in Georgia you should arrange for a consultation with a family law attorney. Get answers to your questions and learn how a lawyer can help you. Call us at 678-880-9360.


Jimmy Duncan
James Hobson is a marketing professional and author with 40 years of experience in sales, marketing, print and digital advertising. James is a frequent contributor to law firm and business blogs under the nom de plume Jimmy Duncan.