Sometimes parents are arrested and incarcerated for failing to make their child support payments. Of course, if their failure is due to lack of funds, putting them behind bars where they're unable to make a living seems counterproductive, and it's no reasonable person's first choice.

States have tried numerous incentives to get recalcitrant parents to pay their court-ordered support. Georgia has something called Parent Accountability Court. It's similar to drug courts that are used as an alternative to incarceration and are intended to get people the help they need rather than focus on punishment.

Removing the Barriers

The judge who spearheads one of Georgia's PAC programs says that the goal is to "remove any barriers that have been hampering [parents'] ability to make their child-support payments." He says, "We want to work to increase child support collections and at the same time save taxpayers the expense of incarceration."

The programs have the support of the state's Division of Child Support Services and other agencies that help parents with financial and personal issues preventing them from meeting financial obligations that they have to their children.

Collecting Support Payments, Saving Incarceration Costs

The Georgia Department of Human Services says that PAC programs have helped collect some $2.8 million in support payments from over 2,700 parents since 2012. That's in a state where less than half of parents who owe child support make their payments regularly. The DHS also estimates that they have saved over $10 million in funds that would have been spent incarcerating non-paying parents.

If you are having difficulty making your child support payments in full and on time and/or if circumstances have changed since your payment order was first established that you believe warrant a modification, it's essential to address the issue with the court as soon as possible. You should never get behind on your payments or pay less than has been ordered -- even if you've reached an agreement with your co-parent outside of court. You are legally obligated to make payments ordered by the court. Your family law attorney can provide assistance in seeking a modification to your order.

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