The Child Support Process

The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) will take the following steps to service your case:

Step 1: Open a Child Support Case
Either parent can call our office at 1-844-MYGADHS (1-844-694-2347) and schedule an appointment to open a case. Anyone who receives help from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program or receives certain Medicaid benefits can get help from DCSS without having to apply. All others must complete an application form and pay a fee of $25. You may fill out an application online or you may download an application or you can request an application be emailed to you by calling 1-844-MYGADHS (1-844-694-2347).

Step 2: Locate the Non-Custodial Parent
To get a support order, establish paternity or enforce a support order, DCSS must know where the Non-Custodial Parent lives and/or works. It may take several months to get child support if you do not know where the other parent lives or if the address is out of state. There is no guarantee the other parent will be found, but the more information you provide, such as the other parent's date of birth and social security number, the easier it will be.

Step 3: Establish Paternity
Before a court can order child support and medical support, paternity must be established. If paternity has not already been established or paternity has been established but is being disputed, DCSS will order that a paternity test be conducted. Testing is done by Buccal Swabbing (saliva) or by drawing a blood sample. The test is more than 99% accurate.

Step 4: File a Support Order
A child support order is established based on the Georgia Child Support Guidelines, which consider the income of both parents and the number of children. Sometimes other factors may be considered.

If either parent can get medical insurance for the child at a reasonable cost, the court will consider that cost in deciding the amount of child support awarded. Usually, if the Non-Custodial Parent can get health insurance at a reasonable cost, that parent will be ordered to obtain it for the child.

Step 5: Set up Payment
After a child support order is in place, the support amount will be deducted from the Non-Custodial Parent's paycheck. State law requires immediate income withholding in most cases. This is an easy way for the Non-Custodial Parent to make child support payments. It also provides the Non-Custodial Parent with a record of payments made. If support payments are not deducted from the Non-Custodial Parent's paycheck, they should be paid as directed in the court order. It is very important to keep records of the payments that are made.

The Fatherhood Program can help Non-Custodial Parents who have a case with DCSS and are unable to pay child support.

Step 6: Enforce the Support Order
When the Non-Custodial Parent does not pay the full amount, or does not pay at all, enforcement action is necessary.

If a parent does not obey a support order, he or she may be found in contempt of court. A contempt action may be filed against the Non-Custodial Parent who fails to make support payments or does not maintain the required medical insurance. Non-Custodial Parents found in contempt of court may be fined, sentenced to jail or both. The judge may order the Non-Custodial Parent who is unable to pay to be enrolled in the Fatherhood Program or in the Parental Accountability Court program. In addition to being enrolled on one of these programs, the Non-Custodial Parent is still obligated to pay the full amount of current and past-due support.

The child support order may also be enforced through one of the following actions:

  • Withholding child support from paychecks, unemployment or weekly worker's compensation benefits.
  • Intercepting federal and/or state income tax refunds.
  • Reporting the parent’s delinquent child support payments to the three credit reporting bureaus.
  • Suspension or revocation of a Non-Custodial Parents drivers’, professional, occupational or recreational hunting or fishing licenses for their failure to pay child support as ordered.
  • Intercepting lottery winnings when they exceed $2,500.
  • Filing contempt actions in the superior court which may result in a jail sentence if the Non-Custodial  Parent is found to be in contempt of court.
  • Filing of liens to seize matched bank accounts, lump sum worker's compensation settlements and real or personal property.
  • Denial, suspension or revocation of the passport of someone who owes more than $2,500 in child support.

Step 7: Review the Order
Both parents have the right to ask DCSS to review a child support order three years after the order becomes effective, unless a substantial change in circumstances can be shown for orders less than three years old. The request must be made, in writing, to the child support office handling their case. The review by the local office can result in a recommendation that the amount of support should be less, more or stay the same. Medical insurance may also be added to the order.

Last Revised December 4, 2015
Attn: DCSS Policy and Paternity Unit