How long do you have to sue to enforce a child support order in Georgia?

We often get calls seeking to collect past-due child support and alimony in Georgia. Those that call often wonder if they have waited too long to do anything about their problem. In 1997 the Georgia legislature added OCGA 9-12-60(d) removing the statute of limitations for enforcing child support arrears. If your order was issued AFTER July 1, 1997, you can stop reading now, your order is still valid.

IF your order granting a child support judgment was issued on or before July 1, 1997, however, your ability to enforce the order is determined by the “old” rules for determining Statute of Limitations and the life of a judgment (the new law is given prospective effect). In such a case originating in Georgia, Georgia law requires that the original judgment be revived by the issuance of a nulla bona every seven (7) years. Georgia allows for a dormant judgment to be renewed between three years of becoming dormant through a petition for Scire Facias. See Brown v. Brown. If neither of these steps were done in a timely basis, your ability to collect may be lost. If a portion of the child support due on the order was for monies due after July 1, 1997, that portion of the judgment may still be collectable.

To further complicate the issue, if the original judgment was issued before July 1, 1997, but in a State other than Georgia, the statute of limitations for either Georgia OR the original state would apply, whichever is longer. See Sussman v. Sussman. In the Sussman case, the court applied Massachusetts law, where the statute of limitations to enforce the judgment was 20 years, and held Sussman liable.