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If you don't pay child support what happens? My ex owes 17 months ($10,000) and he's on probation for non-related charges.

Columbus, GA |

My ex has not paid child support for 17 months, he owes $10,000. He has supervised visitation (he was charged for drug use) for my son (8 yrs) which rarely happens.

My son doesn't want to see him, and my ex doesn't make arrangements with his sisters (supervisors) to see him. Instead, he always wants to meet me with him (I don't do it) and I don't trust him. I haven't called anyone about him not paying because I feel as long as I have my son I have what is important.

My questions is...will someone eventually arrest my ex for not paying child support, or do I have to report him for non payment? I would think this could be a violation of probation, but things seem to fall through the cracks in his favor.

He is also on his mother's estate so could they put a lien on her house? I have a 17 yr that could use money for college.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. First, you need to consult with a family lawyer about your options regarding the child support that your ex owes, including filing a contempt action for his failure to pay child support. He would be subject to the contempt powers of the Court for not paying child support. If the Court finds that he had the ability to pay child support and intentionally disregarded the Court's Order, then the Court could incarcerate him. If the contempt is civil, then the incarceration would be until such time as the father purged himself of contempt by paying the amount required by the Court in its contempt Order. The Court may also allow the father to pay the past due amount or a portion of it in installments over time - in addition to his regular child support amount.

    The father could be arrested if you were to bring criminal charges against him for abandonment, but that may not be the best legal recourse for you and your son. For example, if the father is currently employed, he has an ability to pay child support, which ability he may lose if he is incarcerated in connection with an abandonment charge.

    You should also show an attorney your current custody Order and any parenting time parameters that are in place to protect your child during the father's visits (i.e. supervision; the successful completion of any drug treatment program, etc.). If the father has not done all those things that the Court required of him, such as completing a drug treatment program or following any recommended course of treatment, then it may be wise to file a modification of visitation action and seek to have the father's parenting time held in abeyance until such time as he complies with the recommended course of treatment. If he has not seen his child in more than a year or had any meaningful contact with him or paid support for him, then you might want to speak to an attorney about filing a termination of parental rights action. However...

    Court's typically and understandably are not fond of terminating a parent's rights absent when there is no other person, i.e. a stepfather, who is willing to step up and take responsibility for parenting and supporting the child. If you are remarried and have a husband who is interested in adopting your son, let the attorney know that.

    I am unclear from the information you've provided whether your ex has had supervised visits for 8 years or if your son is 8 years old - since you mention that you have a 17 yr old at the end. If they are two different children, note that child support for the 8 year old cannot be used to fund the 17 year old's college tuition. Child support for the 8 year old needs to be used for the support and maintenance of the 8 year old. If the 17 year old is not receiving child support from his father, then that is a matter that you should address with an attorney as well.

    Best to you.

    This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as nor does it constitute legal advice. This answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Do not rely on this answer in prosecuting or defending against any criminal or civil legal action. Speak to an attorney in your area about how to protect yourself and your interests.

  2. Unless you have an active case with the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), you have the sole responsibility for monitoring, and "complaining" about, his child support payments. If you have a case active with OCSE, they will follow up on arrears. If not, you would have to file a complaint for Contempt for your ex failing to make child support payments.

    Your question regarding the lien on the mother's house is not clear. (Specifically, it is unclear what you mean by "he is on his mother's estate".) However, it is most likely that a lien can NOT be placed on his mother's house related to the child support arrears.

    You should consider speaking directly with an attorney about the details of your case and your potential options for collecting.

    Good luck (and congratulations on sending a child off to college).

    ~ Kem Eyo

    The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.

  3. The burden is on you to enforce his child support obligation. That is done by filing a contempt action against him in the County which entered the child support order. If the support order did not require him to pay the child support through the state of Georgia, then nobody but you will know that he has not paid. There is no provision under the law for someone to be arrested for nonpayment of child support unless they have been found to be in contempt for nonpayment.

    If he owes you $10,000, then that is a large enough amount to go after him with a contempt action. I strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced child support lawyer for more information.

    Nothing contained herein shall be considered or construed as creating an attorney client relationship between the party asking the question and the attorney. All legal problems are different. The answer given is only a general response based upon the facts provided and should not be considered specific advice for your case. Always contact a lawyer for advice about your particular circumstances and issues. For additional information, you may wish to view our firm website at Our firm can assist with matters in Cobb, Fulton, Dekalb, Forsyth, Paulding, Douglas, Bartow, Cherokee, Gwinnett, and other counties in the Atlanta Metro area.

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