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Parent Accountability Court helps parents behind on child support

Making sure that one's children are provided for financially is sometimes a challenge. There are no guarantees in life that one will be able to hold down a job or find suitable employment that pays well. When one is ordered to pay child support and falls behind on payments, according to Georgia laws he or she may be put in jail until all or part of the arrears are paid. Is this really the best way to deal with this problem?

In 2012, the Superior Court and the Department of Human Services launched a program called Parent Accountability Court. This serves as an alternative to jail for those who are behind on making their child support payments. Why was this program launched? The state understands that putting a parent behind bars not only makes it harder for him or her to secure income; it also removes the parent from being physically involved with his or her child. It simply causes more harm than good.

Those whose cases are moved to PAC are assigned to a program coordinator who will help them get the assistance that they need. Services include job training, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment for mental health issues -- among others. The PAC program runs for 18 months. If successfully completed, jail time can be avoided.

So far, Parent Accountability Court has saved the state millions in jail costs. It has also ensured that nearly $3 million in child support has actually been paid over the past four years. While this program is not available all over the state as of yet, the Georgia Superior Court and Department of Human Services are working diligently to expand services so that more parents can be helped. Regardless of whether parents qualify for this program, they may be able to help themselves by seeking support modifications, rather than risk being held in contempt of court. This can be done with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

Source: myajc.com, "Parents behind on child support payments given alternative to jail", Gracie Bonds Staples, May 19, 2017

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