I have a new job but my ex is already asking for more child support. Can she do that?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

I recently got a new job after being unemployed for awhile and falling behind in child support due to my lack of income. My ex-wife is already taking me back to court to increase my child support due to my new income and is requesting I pay back all back child support.

She says they are going to garnish my wages to ensure that child support is paid for. Can she do this? I just started this new job, started to turn my life around, and it’s like all she wants to do is to keep me down.


There are several legal issues to address in your question. Let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia. The information in the article is general in nature. You should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction immediately to discuss your options.

Failure to make child support payments results in an arrearage amount owed to the custodial parent. That parent may seek the court’s help in enforcing the child support order. The parent owed child support can file a motion with the court asking that the delinquent parent be held in contempt for violating the court’s order to pay child support.

It is within the judge’s discretion whether to find the delinquent parent in contempt, put that parent in jail, issue a fine, and/or to allow them time to make payments. Income withholding is a common way to ensure that child support payments are made on time.

When you have a change in income, such as a job loss or a new job, it is your burden to inform the courts that your income has changed. Judges do not check up on parties after an order for child support is entered. Unless you inform the judge, he or she will not know that you cannot afford to make your child support payments.

If you have experienced a significant change in income you should file a motion asking the court to modify your child support obligation. Some states allow retroactive modification of child support, which would allow the court to go back to the date you lost your job and modify the child support from that date forward. You should consult an attorney who is licensed in Georgia for advice about the availability of retroactive modification.

You should contact an attorney who is licensed in Georgia to further discuss the specifics of your situation. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Georgia.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

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