Father Waits Eleven Months to Modify Child Support Order

All children have the right to be supported by both of their parents, even after a divorce. Although a child may not live with a parent primarily, that parent is still obligated to support the child financially to ensure that their needs are met.

A divorced dad was ordered to pay $1,000 per month in child support in the original divorce decree. At the time, he was a successful mortgage banker. However, his company didn't last and he began to struggle with making the payments. It took him eleven months to get a modification in the payments, during which time he fell behind in payments. He was ordered to spend fifteen weekends in jail for his failure to pay. He made the $1,000 per month payments for a five-year period, and was only able to see his daughter six days each month, claiming that he began to feel like an ATM machine.

Child support is a payment by the non-custodial parent for the care of their children. The amount to be paid is based on guidelines that take into account many factors. Georgia used to base the amount on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's gross income. The state now applies a shared income approach that takes into account the incomes of the non-custodial and custodial parents, childcare costs and health insurance costs. Once the support order has been created, there must be a significant change in the circumstances of one of the parents or the children for the order to be modified. Additionally, a parent cannot bring a modification action more than once every two years.

In this case, the amount of child support in the original order was based on the father's income as a successful mortgage banker. That income quickly changed and he faced significant difficulties in making his payments. He sought a modification, but the action took eleven months to complete, and he was unable to keep up with his payments in the interim. His decreased income may necessitate a modification of the original child support order since it might constitute a significant change in the circumstances used when the original order was created. Parents in a similar situation should immediately seek a modification if necessary.

Source: Huffington Post, "Child Support: Man Says He Was An 'ATM Machine' After Divorce," June 20, 2013