One of the hardest things about the quarantine is the uncertainty. Not knowing how long the quarantine is going to last, not knowing how many small and mid-size businesses will not make it, not knowing whether or not you still will have a job next week.
The experts predict that the unemployment rate will reach 15-20% in the US. Whether or not such a prediction will come true, in difficult financial circumstances like the times we are going through now, it is important to debunk some myths and misconceptions about a critical element of income: child support, especially considering that some attempts to get governmental or public assistance for minors in Georgia cannot not be successful without satisfying the requirement to apply for child support from the other parent. At The Manely Firm, P.C., we handle numerous actions for child support in different counties in Georgia, and certain issues come up over and over that a lot of parents don’t have a clear understanding about.
Myth # 1. If I sue my ex for child support, he will have custodial rights to my child.
In the State of Georgia, you can apply for child support via Georgia Department of Human Services (Division of Child Support Services ) or by suing the other parent directly by filing action in Superior Court for paternity and child support. An action for child support would not automatically give your ex any custodial rights. In the State of Georgia, you have to specifically apply for legitimation and custody before you could get custodial rights.
Myth #2. You can file for child support and ask for back child support from the time when the other parent stopped contributing.
In the State of Georgia, the obligation to support your child cannot be enforced until at least a temporary order for child support is in place. There is an exception. Some costs of rearing the child could be potentially recovered under certain conditions if you have proof (receipts for diapers, formula, other necessities for the child), but, essentially, you cannot recover back child support unless you have an order that commands the other parent to pay that prior child support.
Myth # 3. There is no point in filing for child support against my ex as he does not work right now, and he would not be paying anyway.
Even if the other parent does not work even though he or she is capable of working (not disabled, etc), such a parent under certain conditions can be imputed with minimum wage, meaning that Georgia minimum wage will be assigned to him or her for child support calculation. In addition, the State of Georgia does not have statute of limitations on child support collection, so you can potentially collect on child support arrears (as long as you have a proper child support order in place) long after your child turn 18. You need to have a child support order so that you don’t run into problems referenced in Myth #2, above, down the road.
Myth # 4. I cannot receive much in child support anyway, why waste my time pursuing it?
Among the issues that can be resolved under our child support statute at the same time as establishment or modification of child support is the issue of which parent will be obligated to provide the child with health insurance as well as how the parents will divide the child’s medical expenses not otherwise covered by the medical insurance (including co-pays, cost of medications and procedures not covered by the insurance ). Sometimes such expenses could be divided between parents 50/50, and sometimes – pro rata to their respective incomes. Again, such an obligation to cover medical expenses cannot be enforced without first putting a court’s order in place. Making sure that your child has health insurance coverage and that you have help covering your child’s medical expenses is definitely an important consideration, especially in the midst of coronavirus outbreak. You never know how much that non-covered expense might cost. Going after child support and medical coverage and division of non-covered medical costs could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
At The Manely Firm, we continue to work and serve our clients remotely during these trying times, including via Zoom and FaceTime. Please let us know if we can help you with any issues related to child support.