Are you going through the process of divorce and have child support questions? Check out these 3 child support tips, then contact our Georgia lawyers today.
1. Child Support when the Child Refuses to See You
Last week, I had a very tough conversation with one of my clients about the fact that his children did not want to visit with him. There was an agreement or court order for child visitation, but the children don’t want to actually exercise it. Unfortunately, that happens sometimes. In Georgia, child support and visitation are completely unrelated. What that means is if your children don’t want to visit with you, you still have to pay child support for those children. On the other side, if you’re not paying child support because you can’t, you’re unable to, or you missed a month of child support because of circumstances maybe out of your control, the other parent can’t withhold visitation based on your failure to pay.
It goes both ways and, if your children don’t want to visit you, unfortunately, it means that you’re not getting the benefit of parenthood, but you still have all the financial obligations and child support obligations to those children under Georgia law and also by any court order that may have been entered into your case. If your children want to visit and the other parent is keeping them from visiting, that may allow us to go in front of a judge, but, in the meantime, you still have to pay that child support obligation and make sure your kids are taken care of. If the other parent is withholding visitation because of your failure to pay, we can also help with those situations; ultimately, however, we’re going to direct you to continue paying child support as ordered, and we’ll work to fight for your visitation back at any kind of trial that may be set, but you are not allowed to suspend your child support obligations based on a failure to visit.
2. Splitting College Costs
Recently, I received a telephone call from a client of mine, very concerned, as his child had just graduated and was moving towards their freshman year, whether he was going to be obligated to pay some of those college expenses. The short answer is no. In Georgia, child support cannot be ordered against somebody after the age of the majority. Remember, in Georgia, child support can continue past their 18th birthday if they’re still in school, but once they graduate high school, then you’re off the hook. In Georgia, you cannot be obligated for college expenses unless you have entered into an agreement with your spouse to do so. During a divorce consultation, we would talk with you, especially if you’ve got any children that are reaching the age of majority, about how you want to handle college expenses.
Ultimately, I do have some clients who agree to pay for college expenses for their children. My advice would be to come in and let me look at your particular case. For most people, I would encourage you not to obligate yourself through a contract to keep up with those expenses after your child has reached the age of majority. Those expenses and obligations cannot be modified by the court. They don’t have the jurisdiction to modify, if you lose your job or become disabled, so, if you agree to cover those college expenses for your child, you will, for all purposes, forever be obligated to do that, regardless of what happens to your job situation, your health, or any other factors that may come along.
Ultimately, Georgia law does not force you to meet those obligations after your child has reached the age of majority, and Georgia law also does not permit a judge to modify those if you’ve taken those on voluntarily. It’s a very critical issue for you during your divorce proceedings to look at your facts and circumstances, your children and whether they’re going to be going off to college and incurring those expenses. Really give that careful consideration before you ever obligate yourself to something that a judge cannot modify later down the road.
3. Collecting Back Child Support
I got a call the other day from a lady who had not received child support in years, and, of course, her children were in need. They’re in high school now, and there are a lot of expenses that come along with that. She needed help trying to collect that child support obligation. We were able to file a contempt action, which is normally the course that you would go to get your back child support paid and collect on those funds. We were able to file that contempt, get access to their current employer records that showed us how much he was making at that time, and we were able to set up a payment plan and get that arranged with the trial judge so that she could start getting those arrearages collected. She was also able to modify the child support obligation to match their current incomes and be collecting that arrearage as it went along.
Are you or a loved one in the process of a divorce in Statesboro, Springfield, or Swainsboro and have questions about these 3 child support tips? Contact the experienced Georgia divorce attorneys at Hall & Navarro today for a consultation and case evaluation.
We can help get your life back on track.
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