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The Georgia Affordable Child Support Project

Georgia has a significant problem with low-income child support situations. The vast majority of the time, courts order child support awards that are unaffordable—only to create more problems for the children, communities, and even Georgia taxpayers. Reform is needed—and that is the focus of the Georgia Affordable Child Support Project.

Low income fathers want to work and support their children. But they can’t pay when they don’t have enough to cover basic needs. Fathers want to spend time with their kids but can’t if courts want them to pay what they can’t afford. Custodial parents actually get more support when it’s affordable instead of excessive.

Hearings by the Georgia Child Support Commission

The Georgia Child Support Commission is now holding hearing on the public’s views on the child support guidelines.  A hearing is scheduled by Zoom on August 26, 2021 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.   A second hearing is scheduled for September 23, 2021 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.  Your comments will be compiled for the commission’s use on how the guidelines are working.  You also can email comments.

You can express whatever views you want, however, it is encouraged that you put in a plug that the guidelines are especially too high for low income noncustodial parents.  And that the commission should propose a formula that adjusts for how much income is available after income needed for basic needs.  Emphasis needs to be made that a formula (like most states) is needed since judges do not make low income adjustments with deviations.  Emphasize that deviations are not working since judges do like to deviate.

Click here for the direct link to info on the hearing for August 26, 2021.

Click here for the direct link to info on the hearing for September 23, 2021.

Click here for the link to the home page of the commissions web pages.

Email comments to Public Comments Link for GA Child Support Economic Subcommittee

 

Remember to be polite.  It’s OK to be very concerned or upset, but not to be angry (even if you have good cause).

Lost Your Job or Had a Pay Cut—and Can’t Afford to Pay Child Support?

Many have lost jobs recently due to the corona virus shutdowns. You are not alone. You likely need to modify child support. The sooner you file for a modification, the sooner you may be able to stop falling behind.

A modification can only change the child support award amount going forward from when the court makes its ruling.

  • But importantly, if you had a loss of 25 percent or more in income, filing a modification petition and serving it on the other party can stop arrearages from piling up! This is from a special provision in Georgia’s child support guidelines—stopping additional arrearages going back to filing and date of service of the modification petition. This is in contrast to waiting on when the court actually rules on the petition—which may be many months after filing your petition.

Acting quickly is extremely important. Did you know that child support arrearages cannot be reduced or eliminated by court? Arrearages never go away until they are paid off. A modification as soon as possible can limit arrearage buildup—especially if filed under provisions related to 25 percent income loss.

You may want to file on your own even if you are looking for an attorney. Getting a petition filed and served is what the time for stopping arrearages is based on—if there is a 25 percent loss of income. And you attorney could make any additions or changes to your petition later. If you are planning to use an attorney, ask how fast the petition can be filed and served and include code on stopping arrearages when income falls at least 25 percent.

Why Is There Increased Discussion About Child Support and “Self Support” Needs?

Follow the two links below to find out about this important discussion.  One link describes the problem and one link describes potential solutions offered for legislation.  Often, low-income child support payers are seen as creating their own problems.  Instead and more often, it is due to little-understood Georgia law on child support as applied in low-income situations. Georgia’s child support laws have been found and documented to be notably excessive and unaffordable for low-income noncustodial parents. Not fixing this issue has far more pervasive adverse effects than many believe.

Click here to go to the “problem” part of this discussion.

Click here to go to the “answers” part of this discussion.

Click here for a pdf file of combined pages—the “problem” portion combined with the “answers” portion.

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Upcoming Events

Due to public meeting restrictions related to the corona virus, no upcoming events are scheduled currently.  Please check back.

Interested in Setting Up an Event?

More events are being planned for public awareness on the need for reform for making child support affordable in low-income situations. Call or email us if you would like to suggest an event location. Email: info@affordablechildsupport.com. Phone: 678-364-9105.

 

New article on what states are doing to address low-income situations for child support determination–Georgia is at the bottom of the list for fairness on ability to pay for low-income child support payers

This article was prepared for presentation to the low-income study committee of the Georgia Child Support Commission.  The findings give details and also summarize what other states are doing.  But Georgia stands out in several respects.  Did you know that Georgia has the highest presumptive minimum award in the U.S.?  Most states use formulas for making adjustments to awards to ensure noncustodial parents have enough income after child support to pay for basic needs.  Georgia does not have a formula.  Finally, Georgia has one of the highest child cost tables in the U.S.  These facets of child support calculations in Georgia create many problems for low-income obligors simply because the overall guideline costs and lack of self-support formulas automatically create an unable to pay situation.

Click here to read more in pdf.

Click here for the Excel file with the states data.

Click here to go to Web version.

 

Reform Measures the Georgia Affordable Child Support Project Is Advocating

This project has drafted legislation (not yet sponsored) that addresses many problem issues facing Georgia low-income child support payers.  These issues include:

  • Creating a “self-support reserve” in Georgia’s child support guidelines so that awards can only come out of income above what is necessary for a noncustodial parent to pay for basic needs. This would make awards affordable, creating a more realistic situation for both custodial and noncustodial parents.  Plus studies show that affordable awards result in more being paid to custodial parents than when awards are unaffordable and arrearages develop under partial payment.
  • Courts frequently assert that noncustodial parent can earn more than they really can and based child support on this imputed or alleged income. Proposed legislation would require courts to explain in writing how they followed required procedure for creating this alleged income.  Law currently requires that courts examine in detail factors such as education, criminal record, skills, health, and local economic conditions, among others. But a large percentage of courts ignore required procedure because the judges are allowed in Georgia to impute income without any written explanation.  Requiring written explanations is important because excessive, imputed income is a key reason many low-income noncustodial parents have child support arrearages.
  • Make it automatic that when a noncustodial parent files for a modification of child support, that if income falls 25 percent or more, that the modification includes consideration of relief from arrearages due to the loss of income.
  • When a child support obligor (payer) becomes incarcerated, that automatic procedures for a modification take place. Many obligors that have become incarcerated end up with massive child support arrearages because a modification was not filed when there was a loss in income from incarceration.  Arrearages get in the way of future jobs and in spending time with one’s children.

Special PowerPoint Presentation

“Change that Matters: Georgia’s Child Support Guidelines Need Significant Changes for Low-Income Obligors, Suggested Recommendations” PowerPoint presentation to the Georgia Child Support Commission’s Low Income Study Committee, September 22, 2020

The following is an overview of the PowerPoint slides.

This presentation contains condensed issues and facts on how Georgia’s child support guidelines are overly burdensome to low-income noncustodial parents.  Recommendations were made for the legislature to consider, but the Child Support Commission has not endorsed any recommendations even though the need is very compelling.  The public needs to nudge legislators to draft and enact reform legislation.  This presentation and related documents include key “selling points.”

Click here to go to the page with the PowerPoint presentation materials.

More Materials

Click here for the proposed legislation

Click here for a study underlying the need for the legislation (long version of the study)

 

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