Attorney Tiffany Lunn-White of Lunn Law LLC Answers: I Can’t Pay Child Support and The Custodial Parent Understands. Is That Legally Enough?

Child maintenance

The short and long answer is no.  Attorney Tiffany Lunn comes across this question often by non-custodial parents that can no longer pay their court ordered child support and are looking to the custodial parent to understand and not purse them with a contempt action.  Some are successful in their pursuits.  Other non-custodial parents believe they are successful until whatever number of years later, they find out they were wrong. You do not want to put yourself in a position where there is a question.

One scenario that Attorney TIffany Lunn-White has been questioned about is when enforcement is being pursed by Georgia Child Support Services and the non-custodial parent can no longer pay child support and the custodial parent informs Child Support Services to “close the case”. The case is indeed closed by Child Support Services. But surprise!  In x amount of years, the case is re-opened, and the custodial parent is requesting every single dollar and penny in back child support.  So now the non-custodial parent is possibly facing tens of thousand of dollars or more in arrears, threats of their driver’s license being suspended and threats of incarceration.

The key point to understand with Child Support Services is that just because they close a case does not mean that the Child Support Order is not still accruing and in effect.  When Child Support Services closes a case it only means they are not seeking enforcement of the order at that time.  It absolutely does not mean that your Child Support Order has been stopped, ended or modified.

Another scenario that Attorney Tiffany Lunn-White has been questioned about is when Georgia Child Support Services is not involved, and the custodial parents agrees to “work with” the non-custodial parent until the non-custodial parent’s financial situation is improved. This scenario still puts the non-custodial parent in a bad position because just like in scenario one, the custodial parent can change their mind at any time.  The noncustodial parent should be aware they are at a disadvantage because there is a Court Order that states the amount that should be paid.

The best option in both situations is for the non-custodial parent to seek a Modification of Child Support through the court system.  If the non-custodial parent can have the custodial parent formally agree, then the legal process will be shorter.  However, if the custodial parent will not agree, then the non-custodial parent must still proceed.   The non-custodial parent should not put themselves in the position of scenario one or two. There must be no delay in seeking a modification or there could be severe consequences.  The law is clear.