Question: How do I get my employer to stop withholding money for child support once my child support obligation has ended?
The answer to this question depends on the language of your Income Deduction Order (“IDO"). The example on our website ( www.georgiacourts.gov/csc (http://www.georgiacourts.gov/csc)) has the following language: “[This IDO] shall remain in force so long as the order of support upon which it is based is effective or arrearages remain upon payment due thereunder, or until further order of this court."
This language requires you to look at the order of support. This could either be a child support order, divorce decree, or a court order that incorporates a settlement agreement or another agreement between the parties. It will be a court order (or a settlement agreement that is later incorporated into a court order) that says how much child support you must pay, how often you must pay it, and when the obligation will end.
O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e) outlines when the child support obligation ends. Your obligation will end when your child reaches the age of 18, dies, marries or is otherwise emancipated. This Code Section also gives the judge discretion to require you to continue to pay child support past the child’s 18th birthday if they are still attending secondary (high) school. In no case shall child support be required after the child reaches the age of 20. Your support order probably includes this language, but you should check to be sure.
Once you have determined that your current child support obligation has terminated – say your 19 year old daughter has graduated from high school – you should take your Child Support Order; your IDO; a copy of your daughter’s birth certificate (to prove her age); and a school transcript, copy of her diploma, or letter from a school official to your employer. You must also provide proof that you have no child support arrearage. Unfortunately, the STARS online payment portal will not provide sufficient information, so you do have to go to a local Division of Child Support Services office and ask for a printout of your entire payment history to conclusively show what support has been paid. You should also provide a record of all payments you made directly to the custodial parent to assist your employer in confirming that no arrearage exists.
Having all of this information should make your employer comfortable enough to stop withholding child support from your earnings. As the IDO says, they must withhold child support “so long as the order of support is effective or arrearages remain…." The child support order says it ends after your daughter has turned 18 and graduated high school, which you have proved with the evidence you gave your employer. And, since you of course have no arrears, your employer should stop withholding child support from your pay.
Update: I have recently learned that many employers are insisting upon a court order allowing them to stop income withholding for child support, even when all of the above information is provided. To address that to the extent possible, we have posted on our website (see link below) a "Consent Order Terminating Withholding for Child Support" that you may fill in and print. This will only help you if you and the custodial parent are in agreement that you have fulfilled your child support obligation. If so, you will each have to sign the form before a notary, and then you can ask the presiding judge in the county that issued the child support order to sign it. You can find out which judge is presiding at any given time by calling the Clerk of Superior Court.
I hope this information is helpful. The Georgia Commission on Child Support is looking at ways to improve situations such as this for the parents of our state. 06/10/2014