Child support duties, charges: an illustrative story

Persons in arrears on child support payments in Georgia can realize quite quickly that the state’s enforcement mechanisms geared toward fulfillment of payment duties are both broad and potentially quite stringent.

Child support in Georgia is under the mantle of the state’s Department of Human Services, specifically the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). Among other things, that division has broad powers to do the following and more to compel payment from debtors: hold them in contempt of court; fine and jail them; garnish wages, freeze and take tax payments; suspend driver’s and business licenses and file liens on various financial accounts.

And that hardly scratches the surface. Yet another enforcement mechanism available to the state is the denial or revocation of a passport. A story that recently emerged in neighboring Florida underscores how draconian a penalty that can be.

What happened in Florida was this: Although a divorced father was timely and fully paid up on all his child support obligations, his former partner nonetheless told prosecutors that he wasn’t. To defend himself, the man produced corroborating documents that he gave the prosecutors and filed with the court. Despite that, the DA’s office ruled him delinquent and reported him as such to state and federal authorities.

The quick results: The federal government froze his passport, which he desperately needed to travel on job-related activities.

Despite the man’s repeated attempts to clear himself, even through a series of court hearings and the clear evidence on his behalf, the prosecutors refused to alter their stance.

They, along with the man’s former wife, are now paying for that, literally, in the wake of a judge’s clearly expressed irritation with their conduct, which he called “reprehensible.” The judge ordered the attorneys and e-spouse to pay all the man’s legal fees.

The prosecutors say that they will not appeal the matter.

Source: Miami Herald, “Miami judge calls child support prosecutor’s actions ‘reprehensible,'” David Ovalle, Feb. 7, 2013

  • Matters such as that described in the above post demonstrate the clear need of a person for strong and knowledgeable family law counsel when facing a child support accusation or other claim of non-performance in a family-related matter.

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