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Parents in Georgia face jail time for unpaid child support

The terms and figures of court orders placed on child support payees are coming under scrutiny as more jail cells are being occupied by parents unable to meet such obligations. Recently, the Southern Care for Human Rights has filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents in Georgia who have been sentenced to jail for failing to make child support payments but lacked legal representation.

Attention is being leveled at the conditions that child support payees are subjected to if they fail to adhere to their monthly financial obligations. Currently, in some jurisdictions, violators may have up to 65 percent of their paycheck withheld by authorities. Failure to pay obligations may also result in bank accounts and tax refunds being seized and the suspension of driver's licenses. Jail sentences are usually reserved as a last measure of punishment.

A disproportional amount of black males have served time in jail due to unpaid child support, leading some critics to challenge the fairness of the law. In 2010, approximately 3,500 Georgian residents were incarcerated for neglecting to pay the required amount as stipulated in the court of law.

An attorney for the Southern Care for Human Rights suggested that in some cases, the current use of incarceration as a penalty for missed child support payments functionally sends poor people to jail for being poor. However, the threat of jail may be a deterrent for parents who are capable of making child support payments but are unwilling to do so.

In many cases, the amounts a person is obligated to pay may be modified to better fit the payer's financial situation. In order to seek a change, it may be prudent for that person to discuss their case with an attorney. That attorney might be able to enter into negotiations with the payee and could represent the client's interests in courts if necessary.

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