|Can I Get my Child Support Obligations Reduced or Suspended While I am on Workers’ Compensation?
If your claim is “picked up” by your company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, you will receive 66 2/3 of your “average weekly wage” with a maximum of $500 per week. If your claim is “controverted” you will receive nothing unless or until your case settles or until the State Board rules that your injury is compensable.
Not surprisingly, many claimants – usually men who are non-custodial parents – fall behind on child support when they are out of work because of an on-the-job injury.
What should you do if you have child support obligations and you have or are about to fall behind because you are not making enough money to pay your full child support obligation?
Firstly, realize that there is nothing in Georgia’s workers’ compensation law that specifically addresses child support. You cannot and should not assume that your status as a workers’ compensation claimant will protect you.
How do I Get a Modification of my
Instead, you must be proactive. If you have a lawyer who represented you in your divorce or in a child support proceeding, contact that lawyer immediately. If you do not have a lawyer and can afford to hire one, you should seek help from an domestic relations lawyer experienced in child support modifications.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can try to get help from Legal Aid or from a clinic sponsored by a local law school. If there are no free or low cost legal resources available you may have to proceed pro se. Domestic relations matters in Georgia are heard in Superior Court. Most Superior Courts in Georgia have family law divisions, and most of these family law divisions have web sites with free forms you can use to request a temporary modification in your child support.
Where to Get Help
The Family Law division of the Fulton County Superior Court has an extensive library of forms that you can use in any Superior Court in the state of Georgia.
Recently, my husband and law partner, Jonathan Ginsberg interviewed Monica Hanrahan Freitag, a domestic relations lawyer in Atlanta about child support delinquencies arising from Social Security disability claims. You can listen to this interview by clicking on the link. Although Jonathan and Monica are discussing child support delinquencies arising from employment interruptions caused by Social Security delays, the principles are the same when delinquencies are caused by workers’ compensation.
Monica emphasizes that if you see that you will be falling behind, you must be proactive. Nothing happens automatically in the world of child support. Monica also advises non-custodial parents not to rely on verbal agreements with the custodial parent to “accept less money” for a while. Any modification in child support must be sanctioned by a judge in the court that issued the order or that has jurisdiction.
Monica states that in her experience, Superior Court judges will be open to temporary modifications in child support obligations if you can document that your income has decreased because of your injury or medical condition.