My Ex Left Our Kids With Me Do I Still Have To Pay Child Support?
The short answer is yes. As long as there is a Georgia court order for child support payments, you are still legally required to make those payments until such order is modified (by you).
Do not assume that the support payments stop automatically. Often people come to my office faced with a contempt motion for not paying support in and around Atlanta. However, deciding custody on a whim, without a court order leaves parties open to vulnerability. If your ex decides to pursue you for previously court-ordered child support payments or custody arrangements, you can find yourself in contempt of court.
Protect yourself in the court of law, regardless of what’s agreed upon out of court. File a modification of custody and child support when ANY changes occur. It is unlikely a court will “find willful” contempt for unpaid child support when the children reside with that same party. However, the other parent can show up at any time to enforce the order of child support.
What Constitutes Child Abandonment?
The term “child abandonment” is broadly categorized and used to describe a variety of behaviors. Specific examples of abandonment vary, but common actions that may lead to charges include:
- Leaving a child with another person without provision for the child’s support and without meaningful communication with the child for a period of three months;
- Making only minimal efforts to support and communicate with a child;
- Failing for a period of at least six months to maintain regular visitation with a child;
- Failing to participate in a suitable plan or program designed to reunite the parent or guardian with a child;
- Leaving an infant on a doorstep, in trash cans and dumpsters, and on the side of the road;
- Being absent from the home for a period of time that created a substantial risk of serious harm to a child left in the home;
- Failing to respond to notice of child protective proceedings; or
- Being unwilling to provide care, support, or supervision for the child.
If any of these situations apply to your child seek legal modification immediately.
Can Custody Still Be Enforced If My Ex Leaves Our Children With Me?
As long as the original order is in place, your custodial rights are the same. Legally binding custody is not created when the children are left, you must seek a court-ordered modification.
If the proper legal precautions are not taken, the custodial parent in the order remains the custodial parent. A verbal agreement is not enough to grant you any form of custody.
People often come to my Marietta Office distraught when after several years their child is taken back by the originally decreed custodial parent. They mistakenly assumed that when the other parent left their child, they waived their custodial rights.
Remember, the orders of the court do not alter or disappear just because of a verbal agreement or even abandonment. In any situation, always file for a court-ordered modification.
Hire a Custody Attorney
Custody Law in Georgia is complex and varies with each case. No matter the differences, you should always file modifications and seek legal representation when attempting to obtain custody or child support for your child.
Attorney Sean R. Whitworth has a diverse background that gives him a unique perspective when dealing with the complexities of litigation in the Greater Atlanta Area. His clients find he is able to explain the issues they will face with clarity and empathy. He is able to listen and understand what a client’s particular situation is and advise them as to the most productive and economical way to achieve that goal.