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Georgia child support: duties, delinquencies, enforcement costs

A recent story from a national television outlet in Georgia delves into the subject of child support in the state, both its dimensions and the economic repercussions it has across a wide swath of concerns.

As the story notes, support truly is a big deal, both within the state and nationally, and not just for the families and children it most immediately impacts.

Consider for example, as the story points out, statistics indicating that approximately 60 percent of all marriages in Georgia end in divorce. That leads, notes the television report, "to plenty of child support cases," with rippling effects across the state for taxpayers and the allocation of resources for different programs.

In other words, limited taxpayer dollars spent on pursuing non-paying parents and enforcing payment obligations are dollars that are not available for other programs within the state.

And the amount of money at issue is far from insignificant. In Dougherty County alone, for example, nearly 2,800 child support cases have reportedly been opened since 2010. Many of those involve parents who are extremely tardy on their payment obligations. Many still aren't paying, and some have never paid at all.

A parent ruled to be in contempt of court can suffer various penalties, including, centrally, jail time. Despite that exaction, say some parents owed money for support, non-payers will willingly take incarceration over payment, even if they have the money to fulfill their payment duties.

Of the support cases cited above, Dougherty County states that parents are delinquent on payments in nearly 700 of them. County Sheriff Kevin Sproul calls that "a burden on the taxpayers," given that time and money must be expended to find non-payers and either enforce payment or jail them.

A Georgia family law attorney with experience representing clients on both sides of a child support matter -- both payers and custodial parents -- can answer questions and help ensure that the client's legal interests are fully promoted.

Source: WFXL Fox 31, "Child support burden falls on taxpayer," Matt Prichard, April 25, 2013

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