Child Support may be established through either a divorce proceeding or a Petition for Paternity. If a current child support order is in place and you want to increase or decrease the amount of child support, a Petition to modify child support is appropriate.
Recent legislation, effective January 1, 2007, dramatically revised O.C.G.A. §19-6-15, the statute which sets out the child support guidelines. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(c) specifically provides as follows: To achieve the state policy of affording to children of unmarried Parents, to the extent possible, the same economic standard of living enjoyed by children living in intact families consisting of Parents with similar financial means.
In order to bring an action to modify, a party must show a substantial change in the income and financial status of either parent or for the needs of the child, except in three specifically enumerated exceptions. No petition to modify child support may be filed by either Parent within a period of two years from the date of the final order on a previous petition to modify by that same Parent, except in certain enumerated exceptions.
The additional enumerated circumstances are (a) A Non-custodial Parent has failed to exercise court ordered visitation; (b) A Non-custodial Parent has exercised a greater amount of visitation than was provided in the court order, or (c) A party has suffered an involuntary loss of income.
If a child support order is in place but is not being paid, there is an option to bring an action for contempt to enforce payment. The party with a child support obligation who fails to pay risks along with other sanctions going to jail or losing their driver’s license.
The Law Offices of Chester Jennings & Smith, LLC regularly works with both recipients of child support as well as those obligated to pay. We bring our experience with the new guidelines to help our clients understand whether an action to modify will bring about a change in the amount to be paid. We then work to find a solution that represents the best interests of our client.