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What is the statute of limitations on abandonment of minor child in Georgia?

Atlanta, GA |

I have been separated from my wife for 14 years and we have never divorced. We have a child, who is now 20 years old. My wife won't sign divorce papers and acts like there is some potential legal action she can take to punish me for not supporting them while I was out of contact with them. I have been giving them money for the last two years in an effort to make up for the 7 years I didn't contribute. What is the statute of limitations for abandonment of minor child in Georgia?

Attorney Answers 2


Although your question asks about "abandonment," it appears that your wife is referring to your obligation to pay child support. Typically, in Georgia a parent cannot waive their right to receive child support, nor can another be released from their obligation to pay child support. See Worthington v. Worthington , 250 Ga. 730, 731 (1) (301 SE2d 44) (1983); and Dept. of Human Resources v. Mitchell , 232 Ga. App. 215, 216-217 (1) (501 SE2d 508) (1998). When there is a child support order entered, you are required to pay for the child, and the money owed accumulates when you do not pay. Your wife could file for contempt if there is a child support order in place that you have not complied with.

In addition to requiring you to pay all child support owed for the years when you did not support your child, according to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-28.1(b), the licensing agencies in Georgia can revoke or suspend someone’s license if he or she is in arrears behind in paying child support for a period of more than sixty days. Not only can the Georgia Department of Driver Services suspend someone’s drivers license, but the person’s professional license, such as a license to practice medicine. A business license as well as hunting and fishing licenses can also be suspended. Also, if the non-paying parent applies for the license, the application can be denied based solely on the fact that he or she is in arrears with child support. Georgia is not the first state to implement such a drastic law to punish parents who are in arrears. For years, the states of Ohio, Tennessee, and Arizona, have suspended drivers licenses because someone owes back owed child support to their ex-spouse.

If someone’s license had been revoked due to failure to pay child support, the person can get their license reinstated, but he or she must pay the back owed child support before their license is reinstated. According to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-28.1(c), the court will contact the person and ask them to provide written proof, such as copies of canceled checks, showing that they complied with the order and he or she paid the back owed support, which the court can provide to the licensing agency. If the non-custodial parent pays their child support and abides by the child support order, then he or she will not have to worry about having his or her license being revoked.

See our website at for additional helpful information, or contact the Georgia Department of Human Services at

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While there may be some legal gymnastics that could make a case for an abandonment charge you should not be concerned about it. Generally no warrant for a criminal charge will issue unless you go 30 days without providing support for a minor child and the 30 days needs to be directly preceeding the filing of the warrant application.

If you want the divorce you should go forward with the case. Unfortunately the first thing I have to tell my clients in a divorce case is that you cannot believe what your spouse tells you regarding legal issues.

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