This law, which is part of the Fair Business Practices Act, requires private child support collection companies to register and post a bond with the Secretary of State.
Private Child Support Collectors
Effective July 1, 2009, O.C.G.A. §§ 10-1-393.9 and 393.10 require private child support collectors to register and post a bond with the Secretary of State and to file with the Office of Consumer Affairs a sample copy of any contracts which they use in the State of Georgia. Under O.C.G.A. § 10-1-393.4, a private child support collector’s contract must contain the following:
An explanation of the nature of the services to be provided;
An explanation of the amount to be collected from the obligor (the party required to pay child support) by the private child support collector;
A statement of the total amount to be collected by the private child support collector;
An explanation in dollar figures of the maximum amount of fees which could be collected under the contract and an example of how fees are calculated and deducted;
A statement that fees shall only be charged for collecting past due child support, although the contract may include provisions to collect current and past due child support;
A statement that a private child support collector shall not retain fees from collections that are primarily attributable to the actions of the Department of Human Services;
A statement that a private child support collector is required by law to refund any fees that it obtained from collections primarily attributable to the actions of the Department of Human Services;
An explanation of the circumstances under which the contract can be cancelled, together with an explanation of any other conditions under which the contract terminates;
The mailing address, telephone numbers, facsimile numbers, and e-mail address of the private child support collector;
A statement that the private child support collector shall only collect money owed to the obligee (the party to whom child support is payable) and not child support assigned to the State of Georgia;
A statement that the private child support collector is not a governmental entity and that the Department of Human Services provides child support enforcement services at little or no cost to the obligee; and
A statement that the obligee may continue to use or pursue services through the Department of Human Services to collect child support.
The law requires that there must be three months of child support arrearages before a private child support collector may contract to collect past due amounts. It also puts a ceiling on the fees that private child support collectors may charge for their services: they may charge only fees of one-third of the total amount of child support payments collected.
A private child support collector may not charge a client for anything other than the amount that is past due as of the date of the contract, together with any statutory interest owed on the past due amount. The Governor has expressed his intent that the law be interpreted as limiting fees charged by collection agencies to past due child support, not current or baseline child support payments. In other words, Georgia’s children should not see their current monthly payments decline as a result of the new law.
Private child support collectors are not associated with any government agency. The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) provides enforcement services at little or no cost to consumers. All Georgia families have access to DCSS services, which include assistance in locating non-custodial parents, confirming paternity, establishing and enforcing child support and medical support orders, and collecting and distributing payments. DCSS also provides the Georgia Fatherhood Services Program and the Access and Visitation Program, both devoted to increasing non-custodial parent involvement.