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Georgia State Law

1. General Program-At-A-Glance

1. How many local child support offices are in your state excluding agencies with cooperative agreements?
There are 59 local child support offices and 9 County offices administered by the County District Attorney.
2. What is the name of your IV-D agency?
Department of Child Support Services(DCSS)
3. Is your state administrative, judicial, or a combination of both? In particular, does your state primarily use judicial or administrative procedures to establish and/or enforce support orders? Please describe.
Both Paternity and support order establishment. Modification of underlying administrative orders only. Various enforcement tools including but not limited to Income Withholding, license suspension, liens, etc. Orders, Unemployment Compensation Intercept, Withhold and Deliver, FIDM and Workers Compensation liens, federal and state tax offset, lottery. URL: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/gacode/default.asp A contempt action may be filed, generally as a last resort, when all other enforcement actions have failed.
4. Does your state use the following applications: EDE, CSENET, QUICK?
Yes, we use all three applications.

2. Duration Of Support

1. What is the duration of support in your state? Include the age of majority when the support obligation ends in the absence of other factors. Include your state's statutory citation(s).
Age 18: Support order entered after 7/1/92 may provide for the extension of child support to age 20, if the child is still in high school. O.C.G.A. 39-1-1
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2. If not addressed in the order, at what age is child support automatically terminated as a matter of state law? Qualify, if necessary.
Age 18 unless specified otherwise.
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3. Does the date of the order determine the law that is applied to the duration of support? If yes, describe.
Yes, Support order entered after 7/1/92 may provide for the extension of child support to age 20, if the child is still in high school. O.C.G.A. 39-1-1
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4. Does your state law allow support to be paid beyond the age of majority under certain circumstances (for example, if the child has a disability or is in college)? If yes, describe.
Yes, if specified in an order. Orders issued by DCSS state that support may continue to age 20 if the child is enrolled in secondary school (high school). Other examples in private orders might include extraordinary medical needs, handicapped, etc.
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5. What are your state's laws regarding the emancipation of the child that would result in early termination of the child support obligation? Describe.
GA law OCGA 19-6-15(e) and 19-7-2. the duty to provide support for a minor child shall continue until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated, whichever first occurs.
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6. Does child support end if the child no longer lives with the custodial parent but does not emancipate according to state law? For example, the child graduates from high school at 17 and no longer lives with the custodial parent?
No, child support does not generally end when a child marries, enters the military and other similar actions. The court makes this determination for issues other than those mentioned.
7. For orders that include multiple children, does your state automatically reduce the current support owed for remaining children after one of the children in the order reaches the age of majority or otherwise emancipates? If yes, describe.
No. However, some GA DCSS orders have language that reduces support as each child emancipates, but only those orders issued after 2005.
8. Does your state provide IV-D services to establish support for a child who is no longer a minor but for whom state law provides post-majority support (for example, if the child has a disability or is in college)? If yes, please describe the specific circumstances.
No. See GA law O.C.G.A. 19-6-15(e)

3. Statute Of Limitations

1. What is your state's statute of limitations for the collection of past-due support?
None for child support or spousal support pursuant to O.C.G.A. 9-12-60(d) for orders issued on or after July 1, 1997.
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2. What is your state's statute of limitations for the establishment of paternity/parentage? Please explain.
Paternity must be established before the child's 18th birthday.
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3. Is dormancy revival/renewal possible? If yes, under what circumstances and for how long?
A judgment becomes dormant after 7 years in GA - and can be "revived" for 3 more years.
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4. Support Details

1. What guideline type or method does your state use to calculate child support (for example, Income Shares Model, Percentage of Income Model, Melson Formula)?
Guidelines effective January 1, 2007, follow a shared income model under Georgia code section O.C.G.A. 19-6-15. Orders prior to that date were based on a percent of the non-custodial parent's gross income.
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2. Does your state have any statute(s) addressing interest on arrears? If yes, indicate the amount of interest charged, any related conditions, and the statutory citation.
Yes, 12% per year through December 31, 2006. 7% per year effective January 1, 2007. The lower interest rate change was not retroactive. See O.C.G.A 7-4-2, 19-11-7 (e), and 19-11-163
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3. Does your state's IV-D agency calculate interest on arrears? If yes, indicate the amount of interest charged and any related conditions.
Yes, prior to 12/31/2006, Georgia orders accrued interest at the rate of 12 percent per year. The interest rate was lowered to 7 percent per year effective January 1, 2007. This change is not retroactive.GA DCSS will enforce interest on a foreign order that is registered in GA, however for orders issued in GA, DCSS only enforces interest on orders established by DCSS
4. Does your state charge interest on retroactive support? If yes, indicate the amount of interest charged and any related conditions.
No
5. Will your state enforce a medical debt for any uninsured portion? If yes, under what circumstances?
No, we will not attempt to enforce a medical support debt unless previously reduced to a dollar amount in a judgment.
6. If your state has issued an order, and another IV-D agency asserts that the person/entity entitled to receive child support payments has changed from the person/entity designated in your state's order (due to a change in placement or foster care status), what does your state require in order to change the person/entity entitled to receive payments?
For information regarding Georgia's Intergovernmental Forms Requirements, please visit the "For Intergovernmental Agencies" under the General Information section of the GA DCSS website: http://dcss.dhs.georgia.gov/georgia-uifsa-requirements
6.1. Does it matter if the child receives TANF or Medicaid-only? If so, explain.
For information regarding Georgia's Intergovernmental Forms Requirements, please visit the "For Intergovernmental Agencies" under the General Information section of the GA DCSS website: http://dcss.dhs.georgia.gov/georgia-uifsa-requirements
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7. Does your state require that a custodial party, who is not one of the biological parents, have legal custody of a child before enforcing an order for support that was issued to the biological parents as the parties for non-public assistance cases?
Yes. If a case remains active, DCSS will continue enforcing the order for the custodian in the order.
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8. Does your state IV-D agency give the noncustodial parent credit toward child support for Auxiliary Benefits received directly by the custodial parent on behalf of a child as a result of the noncustodial parent's Social Security Retirement, Survivors, or Disability Insurance (RSDI) benefit?
No.
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9. Does your state abate support? If yes, explain the circumstances and provide your statutory citation.
No.
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5. Paternity/Parentage

1. Does your state law require custody and visitation to be addressed at the time of paternity/parentage establishment? If yes, please describe and provide the statutory citation.
No.
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2. What is the percentage of probability for genetic testing that creates a rebuttable or conclusive presumption of paternity?
97% or higher.
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3. What is the state law citation that makes paternity acknowledgment conclusive? Please describe (if appropriate).
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 19-7-46.1 when both the mother and father have signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and the acknowledgment is recorded in the putative father registry established by subsection (d) of Code Section 19-11-9, the acknowledgment shall constitute a legal determination of paternity, subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment prior to the date of the support order, any other order adjudicating paternity, or 60 days from the signing of the agreement, whichever is earlier. Recording such information in the putative father registry shall constitute a legal determination of paternity for purposes of establishing a future order for support, visitation privileges, and other matters under Code Section 19-7-51. After the 60 day rescission period specified in subsection(b) of this Code section, the signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof on the person challenging the acknowledgment. The legal responsibilities of any signatory, including child support obligations, arising from the acknowledgment may not be suspended during the challenge, except for good cause shown.
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4. Does marriage constitute a rebuttable presumption of paternity/parentage without exceptions? Please describe and provide your statutory citation.
Yes, by clear and convincing contrary evidence provided by the husband. O.C.G.A. 19-7-20
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5. Does the father's name on the birth certificate constitute a conclusive presumption of paternity? Please provide your state citation. If no, please describe.
No, the father's name on the birth certificate does not constitute a conclusive presumption of paternity. GA law O.C.G.A. 19-7-46.1.
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6. Does your state have any other paternity/parentage-related presumptions? If yes, please describe.
Yes, a presumption exists if the putative father signed the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, and his name is on the birth certificate. When the mother is married, the husband is presumed to be the father.
7. What, if any, is the agency name and link for your state's putative fathers' registry?
The Georgia Department of Public Health, Office of Vital Records. https://dph.georgia.gov/ways-request-vital-record/putative-father-registry
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8. What documents regarding paternity can your state's IV-D agency provide to other IV-D agencies? Are there any charges to the requesting IV-D agencies?
A request for a copy of a birth certificate or Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity should be sent to dcsspolicy-paternity@dhs.ga.gov . The request should be on your agency's letterhead attaching the template found at https://childsupport.georgia.gov , under legal resources, for Intergovernmental cases, GA UIFSA requirements. You will also need to include a copy of your state Photo ID with each request. One request per email, please. Fee charged for certified copies. See #9 below.
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9. Does your states bureau of vital statistics charge any fees to other states or private individuals for requesting searches, paternity/parentage documents, and data?
Yes, Vital Records charges $25.00 for birth certificates and each additional copy of the same document is $5. A copy of a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is $10.00.The only waiver is for GA DCSS attorneys when the document is needed for a court hearing.
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9.1. Describe any circumstances under which these fees may be waived?
The only waiver is for GA DCSS attorneys when the document is needed for a court hearing
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10. Is common-law marriage currently recognized in your state? If yes, describe the standard that defines common-law marriage and the date the standard went into effect.
No, Common Law marriage has not been recognized since January 1997
11. If there was a prior common-law standard in your state that is no longer in effect, what were the dates that standard was in effect? Describe the standard.
1. Parties were able to contract marriage; 2. There was an actual contract; 3. Must have been consummated according to law. Codified in 1983
12. If there is more than one child with the same custodial party and the same alleged father, should an initiating jurisdiction send one intergovernmental packet to your state (with a separate Declaration in Support of Establishing Parentage forms for each child) or a separate intergovernmental packet for each child?
One intergovernmental packet with a separate Declaration in Support of Establishing Parentage forms for each child.

6. Support Order Establishment

1. Does your state use an administrative, judicial, or a combined process to establish a support obligation?
Combined process
1.1 If your state can establish both administratively and judicially, under what circumstances would your state use the administrative process? Please provide the statutory citation for your state's administrative procedures.
In those circuits where court time is limited, the administrative process is used. O.C.G.A. 50-13-40 and the Office of State Administrative Hearings Rules, Chapter 616
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1.2. Under what circumstances would your state use the judicial process? Please provide the statutory citation for your state's judicial procedures.
Each circuit determines the best course of action to take. O.C.G.A. 19-7-40, 19-7-43, 19-7-45 thru 19-7-50
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2. When setting support using your state's guidelines, whose income is considered in addition to the noncustodial parent's (for example, custodial parent, spouse, child)?
Custodial Parent
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2.1. What documentation is required as proof/evidence of this information?
See Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 19-6-15
3. What criteria for rebutting your presumptive guidelines have been established in your state?
By a finding that: 1. shows the guidelines in a particular case are unjust or inappropriate; 2. states the amount that would have been required by the guidelines; 3. justifies why the order varies from the guidelines.
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4. Will your state establish support orders for prior periods of support? If yes, please describe (for example, from the birth of the child, from date of separation, prenatal expenses, five years retroactive).
No
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4.1. What information or documentation does your state require to proceed with establishing support for prior periods?
N/A
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4.2. Will your state allow a petition for support for a minor child when the only issue is retroactive support?
No
4.3. If there are limitations upon your state's ability to establish support for prior periods, specify those limitations.
Georgia's guidelines for establishing support pursuant to O.C.G.A.19-6-15 do not provide for support for prior periods.
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5. Does your state require that a custodial party, who is not a biological parent, have legal custody of a child before establishing an order for support when public assistance is being expended?
Not when the child is receiving TANF or Medicaid benefits.
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5.1. What about when public assistance is not being expended?
In non-TANF cases, legal guardianship or custody is required.
6. When your state has issued an order that reserves support, and now child support should be ordered, does your state require establishment or modification?
The other state should request modification.
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7. When there is an existing support order between the parents of a child and the child's residence changes from one parent to the other, does your state require that the new custodial parent obtain legal custody before child support is addressed? Please describe.
Yes. On non-TANF or Medicaid only cases legal guardianship or custody is required.
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7. Income Withholding

1. What are specific sources of income not subject to withholding?
TANF, SSI, VA Disability
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2. Does your state law adopt the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) income withholding limits? Please provide the statutory citation.
Yes, refer to Georgia Law, O.C.G.A. 19-6-32.
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2.1. Does your state have policy or procedures allowing the agency to use lower limits than the CCPA?
No.
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2.2. What are the withholding limits for non-employees?
50% - 65%; 50% for Orders to Withhold and Deliver
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3. What is the maximum fee for the administrative cost that an employer may charge for processing income withholding orders? (45 CFR 303.100 (e)(iii).
One time set-up of $25; $3 for each subsequent deduction
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4. Does your state charge any fees to the noncustodial parent that the employer must withhold and remit to the state? If yes, please explain.
Yes, there is a charge of 5% per total deduction or $1.50, whichever is less per pay period
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5. Is an employer required to begin withholding after the date of service, receipt, or mailing of an income withholding order?
Mailing of an income withholding.
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5.1. How many days following the first pay period that occurs after service, receipt, or mailing of an income withholding order is an employer required to begin withholding?
No later than the 1st pay period that occurs after 14 days following the date the Notice was mailed.
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6. When must an employer remit amounts withheld from an employee's pay?
Within 2 working days of each payment date.
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7. What are your state's sanctions for employers for not implementing income withholding?
Georgia law provides that if the employer willfully fails to deduct, they are liable for the amount that they should have deducted plus any court costs, interest, and attorney fees.
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7.1. What are the penalties to an employer for failure to remit payments withheld?
No penalty imposed by the IV-D agency. The court may impose costs, interest and reasonable attorney's fees. For additional information, refer to Georgia Law, O.C.G.A. 19-6-33
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8. Does your state allow other jurisdictions to send income withholding orders for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits directly to your state's UI agency? If yes, please explain your process and include any additional required documents.
Yes, If the NCP lives in GA, income withholding of UI benefits can be requested through an interstate action under UIFSA by submitting a full petition packet for a two-state case to the Georgia Central Registry. Direct requests can be sent to GA Dept. of Labor for a fee. Bypassing a two-state case will require a $52 processing fee to be paid to: Georgia Department of Labor, 148 Andrew Young International Blvd N.E., Suite 900, Atlanta GA 30303-1757.
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8.1. If no, what is your state's process to aid the other jurisdictions in withholding UI benefits? Please describe and include the required documents.
N/A.
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9. Does your state allow other jurisdictions to send income withholding orders directly to a noncustodial parent's financial institution in your state? If yes, please explain your process and include any additional required documents.
Yes, see Ga. Comp. Rules and Regulations 290-7-1.17(h) http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/gac/290-7-1
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9.1. If no, what is your state's process to aid the other jurisdiction in collecting from a financial institution? Please describe and include the required documents.
N/A
10. How does a noncustodial parent contest an income withholding in your state?
Obligor may request an administrative or judicial hearing at any time. Such requests do not halt enforcement actions.
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11. How does your state allocate payments when there is more than one claim against the noncustodial parent's income? Should the payment be divided equally or pro-rated among the cases? (See 45 CFR 303.100(a)(5).)
Employers should deduct payments for all orders prorating total deduction amounts across all orders up to the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act limits.
12. When calculating disposable income for child support purposes, what are the mandatory deductions from gross income required by state law, such as union dues or medical insurance premiums?
State law does not require any mandatory deductions from gross income. See Georgia Law, O.C.G.A 19-6-15
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13. When does your state require the employer to send notice of an employee's termination?
Upon separation from employment.
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14. When your state is enforcing an order and receives payment through income withholding that is not enough to cover the full amount ordered, how does your state apply the payment to the types of support (for example, current, arrears, medical, spousal support, other)? Please describe and provide the statutory citations, if appropriate.
According to our distribution matrix, current support is paid first. Once the current support ordered amount is satisfied for the month, then the remaining balance of the payment or subsequent payments received during the same month are prorated and applied to the arrears owed on the case. Proration is based on the arrears support ordered amount and then the arrears balances.
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8. Distribution

1. Does your state pass through collections (and disregard collections for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility purposes) in current assistance cases? If yes, provide the amount and explain.
No, the state will not participate in the pass-through provision for Current Assistance cases under section 457(a)(7)(B) of the ACT, as amended by DRA.
2. Does your state participate in the pass-through in former assistance cases? If yes, provide the date and explain.
No, the state will not participate in the pass-through provisions for Former Assistance cases under section 457(a)(7)(A) of the Act, as amended by the DRA.
3. In former assistance cases, are federal income tax refund offset payments applied to families first (DRA distribution) or state arrears first (PRWORA distribution)?
The state continues to distribute all collections according to PRWORA distribution, i.e. former section 457 (a)(2)(B) of the Act as in effect prior to 10/1/09.
4. How does your state distribute payments when the noncustodial parent has arrears due to your state and another state?
According to our distribution matrix, current support is paid first. Once the current support ordered amount is satisfied for the month, then the remaining balance of the payment or subsequent payments received during the same month are prorated and applied to the arrears owed on the case. Proration is based on the arrears support ordered amount and then the arrears balances.
4.1. If there are no arrears due to your state, how does your state distribute payments when the noncustodial parent has arrears due to multiple states?
Distribution follows federal law and regulations and is also addressed in Ga. Comp. Rules & Regulations. r. 290-7-1-.15(a).
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