How Should I Respond to a Child Support petition?

child supportThe dissolution of your marriage was hard but necessary. You must now focus on rebuilding your life and on being a parent to the child you had with your ex. Monthly child support payments were part of the final settlement. Even if you have made such payments, you may still receive a child support petition. 

This can occur for any number of reasons. You can receive a petition because your ex wants to increase the amount of money you pay in child support. You may also receive a summons as part of a larger campaign of harassment. No matter the reason, you must respond to it. If you do nothing, your ex will be able to get a final order against you. 

Child support in Georgia is a serious matter. Judges have little time or patience for parents who do not respond to petitions, even if you are in the right and your ex in the wrong. The first thing you should do after you receive such a document is to get in touch with a child support attorney in Fulton County. Issues related to child support in Fulton County should be dealt with by lawyers who know the law, the courts, and the enforcement agencies in the county. 

First Steps 

You should verify that the document you received is a child support petition. A motion asking for the modification or enforcement of existing orders is quite different from a child support petition and must be responded to in a very specific way. 

Once you have read the complaint, you should have an understanding of what is being asked of you. You should take one paragraph at a time and write down what you agree and do not agree with. If you agree with everything that is asked for, then all you need do is comply. If you disagree with anything at all in the petition, then you will need to file a response. 

Deadlines 

You have 21 days after you are served to file your response. It is possible to ask the judge overseeing the case for an extension. Otherwise, a default may be entered against you. If you have already exceeded the 21-day deadline and the default was already entered against you, you can ask the judge to set it aside. If this is granted, you will be able to tell the judge your side of the story before they make a final order. 

Filing the Forms 

There is a $212 fee to respond to a custody case. You can pay by cash, money order, or debit or credit card. If you cannot afford this, you can request a filing fee waiver. 

You can mail your form to the court. Or, you can file online through the court’s e-filing system. There is a $3.50 fee to upload your documents, which must be paid in addition to the regular filing fee. You can register for an account if you have a valid email address, and you must be able to scan and upload your documents in order to file online. 

Getting it Right 

To improve your chances of getting an outcome favorable to you, it is important to fill out the paperwork correctly and to submit it on time. You should be clear about the contents of the petition. Your lawyer can help you understand your ex’s request and to file a response to it. If you are being asked to pay more in child support because it is believed you are making more money, then your attorney can help you respond to this—if you disagree with this request. Speaking to a child support lawyer in Fulton County at The Fuller Law Group can help you resolve this matter.