Tonight's offering about child support is provided by our Savannah attorney, David Purvis.
The United States Census Bureau recently released data on children living in single-parent households. 45% of children living in single-parent households with their mother live below the poverty line. About 21% of similarly-situated children living with their father in single-parent households live below the poverty line. However, only approximately 13% of children living in homes with both parents are living below the poverty line. One final interesting statistic before I move on: 25% of women raising children are doing so as a single parent.
In Georgia, the policy behind the calculation of child support is that children of unmarried parents should enjoy the same economic standard of living as children of married parents of the same financial means, or as close to it as possible. Contrary to popular belief, child support is not decided based on what it requires to provide for the basic needs of a child. Rather, it is determined by looking at the financial picture of both parents and the custody and visitation plan in an effort to determine the quality of life the child would enjoy financially if the parents were married. If the laws have been applied correctly when determining support, it stands to reason that the statistics cited above regarding living below the poverty level should not be so disparate between single parent and dual parent households. Rather it should be that the numbers are very similar. A major contributing factor to this divide is a failure of the non-custodial parent to either pay child support at all or to pay the amount that was court ordered.
What happens when the non-custodial parent refuses to pay child support? There are several options. For one, an income deduction order may be entered in which the support is automatically garnished from the non-custodial parent's paycheck. Additionally, the custodial parent may bring a contempt action in which they ask the court to hold the non-custodial parent in contempt for non-payment.
What happens when there has been a change in income for one or both of the parents since the initial order? Depending on some additional considerations, it may be time to review the amount and seek to modify that amount. Again, the purpose behind determining support is to put the child at the same financial means as they would enjoy if both parents were married. If one or both parents are making significantly more income, then the child support amount should reflect that. If one or both parents have lost their job or had to take a lower paying job, then the support amount should reflect that as well.
I am of the mind set that no child should have to live in poverty, particularly if it's simply because one parent does not feel they should have to pay sufficient support. If you're raising a child as a single parent and struggling to make ends meet and you don't feel that the amount you or the other parent is paying is correct, or you have other concerns regarding support, it is worthwhile to discuss your options with an attorney.
With The Manely Firm, not only are you able to meet with a knowledgeable family law attorney, your consultation with that attorney is free.