IF YOU CANNOT PAY YOUR CHILD SUPPORT MODIFY, MODIFY, MODIFY
The biggest mistake non-custodial parents make after losing a job or suffering a financial set back is simply not paying the court ordered support any longer. Once the support is not paid the overall amount owed in back support, or what is called arrears, begins to accumulate to a point in which it becomes overwhelming. Usually at this point the custodial parent becomes frustrated and angry and legal action begins. The problem with this action is the person not paying support may not even know that proceedings have begun or the state has suspended their license. If the state decides to proceed they will send out a notice; however, often this is not received by the intended party and they do not discover that their license has been suspended until they are pulled over for speeding and find themselves taken to jail. Eventual, the custodial spouse will file a private contempt action or the state will file a contempt action on behalf of the child. In the end, the non-paying spouse can and usually does go to jail for unpaid support.
What do you do if you suffer a financial set back? Modify. It is essential that you immediately seek a modification of child support based on the new financial realities. The court will adjust the support to reflect actual income and the needs of the child, this also applies to the custodial parent, whose income may have increased. However, while you are waiting for a court order pay something. In Georgia the standard for incarceration is willful contempt. This essentially means that you utterly disregarded the order of the court. If you suffer a financial set back pay something reasonable if you cannot pay the entire amount. You may still be obligated to pay back the arrearage amount but you can avoid a finding of willful contempt and incarceration. In the end, do not ever neglect your support, be proactive with the support order and take action whenever your financial circumstances change.