Support Enforcement: Avoiding Contempt in Georgia Family Court

When a couple goes through a divorce or separation, the court may issue a court order regarding child support or alimony. However, what happens if one party fails to follow the court order?

In Georgia family court, if there is a clear court order for child support or alimony and the paying party falls behind, the other party can file a contempt motion. We will examine what happens during a contempt motion, how to avoid contempt, and what to do if you are faced with a contempt action.

You don’t have to walk that road alone if you face contempt in a support enforcement case. Enlist the legal help of an Atlanta family law attorney today!

What is Contempt?

Contempt is a legal term for a situation where someone violates a court order. Contempt in family law cases is often filed when one party fails to pay child support or alimony as the court orders. The other party or the court can file a contempt motion, and if the court finds that a party is in contempt, the consequences can be severe. Penalties can include fines and even jail time.

Proving Contempt

To prove contempt in Georgia family court, the party filing the motion must prove two things:

  • There is a valid court order
  • That court order has not been followed

Once these two elements are established, the burden shifts to the paying party to show a complete inability to pay.

It’s not enough for the paying party to claim they paid all their other bills first and ran out of money. They must prove that they have exhausted all of their resources before the court will find that they are unable to pay.

Avoiding Contempt

The best way to avoid contempt in Georgia family court is to pay the court-ordered child support or alimony on time. It’s important to remember that child support and alimony are the only bills that can land you in jail if you fail to pay.

Therefore, it’s essential to prioritize these payments over other bills. If you are struggling to make payments, it’s important to adjust your budget and eliminate unnecessary expenses. You may also want to consider selling assets or taking on a second job to make ends meet.

If you truly cannot pay the court-ordered child support or alimony due to a medical condition or other legitimate reason, it’s important to discuss your options with an Atlanta divorce contempt attorney with experience in child support or alimony in Georgia.

Sometimes, a parenting plan may be implemented, or the other party may agree to suspend support. However, it’s essential to work with an attorney to ensure that any agreements made are legally binding and won’t result in a finding of contempt down the line.

What to Do if You are Faced With Contempt

If you are faced with a contempt action in Georgia family court, it’s important to take it seriously. Failing to address the issue can result in fines or even jail time. The first step is to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your options and guide you through the process. We will work with you to determine the best action based on your circumstances.

Contact an Experienced Atlanta Family Law Attorney Today

Following a court order for child support or alimony is essential to avoiding contempt in Georgia family court. If you struggle to make the payments, adjusting your budget and prioritizing these payments over other bills is important.

If you are faced with a contempt action, it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you understand your options. Child support and alimony are not negotiable and must be paid on time to avoid legal consequences.

Contact us today at Edwards Family Law, and we’ll review your support case and your situation to ensure you are treated fairly, and your rights are protected.

Author Bio

Regina Edwards is the Owner and Managing Attorney of Edwards Family Law, an Atlanta family law and estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With more than 21 years of experience practicing law, she is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including divorce, child custody, child support, legitimation, wills, trusts, probate, and Medicaid planning.

Regina received her Juris Doctor from the Tulane School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers for six years, as well as being named among the Pro Bono All Stars by the Georgia Bar Journal in 2019.

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