Georgia Child Support Contempt Lawyers
Coleman Legal Group, LLC
Child support contempt is a possible consequence if there is a substantial failure to pay child support. The parent receiving child support for a minor child may file for a contempt of court hearing to enforce the court ordered payments and or to receive back payments. During the hearing the party accused of contempt will be able to present evidence to the judge to demonstrate that the failure to provide support was not willful and not due to irresponsibility. If the party fails to attend court on the matter the judge may issue a warrant for arrest and if the parent is found “willfully non-compliant” with the court order the judge may also order punitive measures, such as incarceration and jail time.
Six Reasons for not paying Child Support in Georgia:
1) Inability to pay full or partial amount
2) Void judgment or court decree
3) Modification/Change of Custody
4) Supplemental Payments
5) Reliance upon Agreement
6) Court Document Vagueness- example vagueness as to dates in which the child support is due.
How to avoid being Found Guilty of Contempt:
To demonstrate to the court that you are not guilty of willful contempt you must prove that you were not deliberately disobedient to court ordered and demonstrate a reasonable explanation of why the support went unpaid and proof substantiating your claims. If you are unable to substantiate proof of “hardship” then it is more likely that you will be held in contempt of court and will face possible jail time. It is important to note that the past amounts of unpaid child support will still be owed and may continue to accumulate during a jail stay. Even in the face of hardship and even if you are unable to provide the total amount of support efforts if you make some sort of small payment(s) this can work to substantiate your claim that you did not “willfully” disregard the order and attempted to provide what was available to you.
The following is a list of legitimate hardships and examples of reasonable proof that could be taken into consideration at a contempt of court hearing:
• Job Termination: Provide an affidavit from past employer explaining why you were let go and the date of termination.
• Unemployment: Provide records of interview or job application.
• Physically/ injury Disabled: Provide affidavits from medical professionals.
• Psychological Disability: Provide affidavits from medical professionals i.e. depression.
• Chronic Illness: Provide affidavits from medical professionals.
• Monetary Hardship: Provide affidavits from family members/friends that demonstrate that you have not been able to legitimately provide support despite attempts and or they were unable to financially assist you in making payments.
A defendant in a contempt of court hearing must also demonstrate a legitimate reason why they failed to request a modification hearing to prevent their contempt of court. A modification hearing may prevent a contempt of court by addressing the court upfront about payment issues and the court may choose during this type of hearing to lower payments temporarily until the parent responsible of payments is financially able to provide the previous amount of support. If a modification hearing was not entered a defendant must demonstrate a reason why they were unable to file for a modification.
A party would therefore have to demonstrate that they were physically unable to file for the modification themselves and or was unable to have another party or law professional file on their behalf. Affidavits may substantiate claims; such as, illness, hospitalization, or serious injury, but list of council you attempted to obtain may also be taken into consideration. For instances in which a party had difficulty obtaining council, the party should provide the council’s name or firm, the date of contact, price quoted, or reason they were unable to assist you in the case. Examples of legitimate reasons legal council may deny your case that could be taken into consideration by the court are, the local aid office could not assist you, the office had too many cases, or the firm doesn’t handle child support modifications.
When are you in Contempt of Child Support Requirements?
A parent is in contempt of court for nonpayment of child support if any of the following statements are true:
• A parent has not provided support until the child has completed high school (ages 18-20) as stipulated in court order.
• Until the child marries or becomes legally emancipated.
• If the other parent has not paid any support for more than thirty (30) days constituting abandonment.
Can a Judge Decrease the Amount Owed of Back Child Support?
No, a judge is not able to decrease the amount of back child support owed. A decrease can only be done from the time that a modification of child support is entered or following a contempt hearing for future payments. A judge may however work out some sort of payment plan for the repayment of back child support amounts owed that can be paid back over a period of time. This is why it is important to address issues concerning missed child support payments as soon as possible as large back child support amounts can increase and cause problems for a person to make and maintain future payments.
Possible Outcomes at the Contempt of Court Hearing:
Generally the outcome of a contempt of court hearing is handled one of two ways. The judge presiding over the case may take into consideration your legitimate excuses, evidence of hardship, or additional external factors and develop a schedule to pay future payments and or depreciation in the amount of future payments. On the other hand, if the judge doesn’t find your evidence or excuse to be reasonable or you have a chronic history of failure to pay the judge may put you in jail. A judge may also order for additional measures to be taken to obtain back child support or future child support in instances in which they feel the non-payment is not reasonable, but might not yet warrant jail time. For example a judge may order for income deduction where the amount will automatically be deducted, all wages may be withheld, a property lien may be established to satisfy large amounts of back arrearages, or may require for a party to post a bond or assets in the amount of back child support. It may be dependent upon judge, jurisdiction, and number of times you are held in contempt that may influence a judge’s decision as to which measure they will take to remedy the situation. If a judge does decide to put a parent in jail it is usually because they feel that wage garnishments or an income deduction will not work in the particular situation.
Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s Georgia lawyers practice in the areas of Divorce, Family Law, Estates, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Bankruptcy, Business Law and Immigration. We have offices conveniently located at:
North Point Park
5755 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022
Phone: 770-408-0477 | Map
|Dunwoody, Sandy Springs
GA 400, Atlanta Georgia
1200 Abernathy Rd
Atlanta, GA 30328
Phone: 770-408-0477 | Map
|Johns Creek, Duluth GA
11555 Medlock Bridge Road
Johns Creek, GA 30097
Phone: 770-408-0477 | Map
125 TownPark Drive
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Phone: 770-609-1247 | Map
Georgia Areas We Serve
Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s divorce and family law attorneys handle cases in the following cities and communities: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Cumming, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Canton, Woodstock, Douglasville, Kennesaw, Gainseville, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Midtown, Inman Park, Duluth, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Vinings, Smyrna, Covington, Conyers, Newborn, Mansfield, Oxford, Social Circle, Porterdale, Buford, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, Dacula, Ball Ground and Starrsville.
Our divorce and family law attorneys frequently handle cases for clients residing in the following counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Coweta, Paulding, Bartow, Hall, Barrow, Walton, Newton, Rockdale, Henry, Spalding, Fayette, Newton, Walton, Rockdale and Clayton.
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