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State-wide programs target delinquent child support payments

According to a recent report, about 40 percent of noncustodial parents in Georgia who are ordered to provide financial support to a child fail to make payments. However, many of those parents were given the opportunity to avoid penalization for missing a payment during settlement week, an amnesty program which began May 19 and ended May 23. The program aimed to incentivize the fulfillment of support obligations, and 9,000 noncustodial parents were invited to participate.

The plan was one of many ways that the state is attempting to encourage parents to provide their children with financial assistance. The chosen parents were allowed to make payments to the Division of Child Support Services without facing late penalties. If they could not make the payments, they had the chance to sign an agreement regarding payment plans and were also given the opportunity to learn about other programs that might help them keep up with their support obligations. One of those programs is knows as Parental Accountability Court.

In Georgia, failure to comply with a child support agreement can be prosecuted as a criminal charge and is punishable by a fine and jail time. However, the Parent Accountability Court provides parents with an alternative to incarceration and attempts to help parents provide support by solving the issues that lead to nonpayment. The report cites unemployment and substances abuse as some of the factors that cause missed payments.

Parents who find it difficult to adhere to a payment schedule might also consider pursuing a modification of a standing support agreement in court. If it can be demonstrated that financial situation of the paying parent has changed since the initial agreement came into effect, a judge might allow the size of the required payments to be lowered to reflect that parent's current ability to pay.

Source: Gainesville Times, "Hall offers parents chance to pay late child support", Emma Witman, May 27, 2014

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