Whenever one party to a support order is not in compliance, the other party may file a Complaint for Contempt in the same court that issued the support order. The party not in compliance with the court order must come back to that court to defend the action, even if they have moved away. The court has continuing jurisdiction to enforce its own order. The court has the power to enforce by putting the non complying party in jail until they comply. They may also allow compliance by monthly payments through payroll deduction or direct pay, using the threat of jail to enforce the order. The court may also award attorney fees to the party bringing the action.
If you know where the non paying party works, a garnishment can be a faster and less expensive way to collect support. A garnishment for support will continue until the support obligation is current. Any payments received will first be applied to the current month’s obligation. Any surplus payment will reduce the arrears owed. The costs are relatively low compared with litigation in the divorce court. Although the garnishment action will allow the costs of filing to be added to the balance owed, there is no provision for attorney fees.
AUTOMATIC WAGE DEDUCTION
All new and amended orders of support are now subject to automatic wage deduction orders that provide that the amount of support, whether current or arrears, shall be deducted from the payers wages until the obligation is over. If you have a Georgia support order that qualifies, you only need to submit a wage deduction order to the Judge who rendered the support order, and it will be effective upon presentation to the employer.
BEWARE OF SCAMS
Although Family Law attorneys are barred by law from taking a contingency contract for the collection of future support, there is an exception made to this law which has come under recent scrutiny. It is not unlawful to take a percentage of past due support when it is treated like a collection case. Most Family Law attorneys will NOT take a large share of your support payments. However, there are some lawyers who do this, and they advertise that they will collect your support, and that you will not have to pay until they collect. This is NOT always the best way to collect. If your case is relatively simple, or can be handled by one of the above methods, the fees may be relatively small, or even paid entirely by the delinquent party. There are many reputable family law attorneys who will collect your child support for little or no money down, and will still not take a great percentage of your support. Always ask if there is a less expensive way to handle your case before you turn it over to these collection agencies who will take 30-40% of your much needed support payments.