2020 Georgia Code
Title 19 - Domestic Relations
Chapter 7 - Parent and Child Relationship Generally
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 19-7-2. Parents' Obligations to Child

Universal Citation: GA Code § 19-7-2 (2020)

It is the joint and several duty of each parent to provide for the maintenance, protection, and education of his or her child until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated, whichever first occurs, except as otherwise authorized and ordered pursuant to subsection (e) of Code Section 19-6-15 and except to the extent that the duty of the parents is otherwise or further defined by court order.

(Orig. Code 1863, § 1743; Code 1868, § 1783; Code 1873, § 1792; Code 1882, § 1792; Civil Code 1895, § 2501; Civil Code 1910, § 3020; Code 1933, § 74-105; Ga. L. 1979, p. 466, § 41; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1833, § 2; Ga. L. 2005, p. 224, § 12/HB 221; Ga. L. 2006, p. 583, § 7/SB 382.)

Cross references.

- Parents' obligation to illegitimate child, § 19-7-24.

Responsibility of parent or guardian for enrolling child in school, § 20-2-690.

Duty of support owed by parent of pauper, § 36-12-3.

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2005, p. 224, § 1/HB 221, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "The General Assembly finds and declares that it is important to assess periodically child support guidelines and determine whether existing guidelines continue to be viable and effective or whether they have failed or ceased to accomplish their original policy objectives. The General Assembly further finds that supporting Georgia's children is vitally important to the citizens of Georgia. Therefore, the General Assembly has determined that it is in the best interests of the state and its citizenry to undertake an evaluation of the child support guidelines on a continuing basis. The General Assembly declares that it is important that all of Georgia's children are provided with adequate financial support whether the children's parents are living together or not living together. The General Assembly finds that both parents have a continuing obligation with respect to providing financial and emotional stability for their child or children. It is the hope of the members of the General Assembly that all parents work together to advance the best interest of their children."

Ga. L. 2006, p. 583, § 10/SB 382, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "Sections 1 through 7 of this Act shall become effective on January 1, 2007, and shall apply to all pending civil actions on or after January 1, 2007."

Law reviews.

- For article, "Trusts for Dependents: Effect of Georgia's Support Obligation on Federal Income Taxation," see 8 Ga. St. B.J. 323 (1972). For survey article on domestic relations, see 34 Mercer L. Rev. 113 (1982). For article on 2005 amendment of this Code section, see 22 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 73 (2005). For article on 2006 amendment of this Code section, see 23 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 103 (2006). For note discussing Georgia's child support laws, their problems, and some proposed solutions, see 11 Ga. L. Rev. 387 (1977). For note, "The Economics of Divorce in Georgia: Toward a Partnership Model of Marriage," see 12 Ga. L. Rev. 640 (1978). For note on 1992 amendment of this Code section, see 9 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 234 (1992). For note, "Big Brother is Watching: When Should Georgia Get Involved in Issues of Family Privacy to Protect Children's Liberties?," see 34 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 819 (2018). For comment on Wallace v. Wallace, 221 Ga. 510, 145 S.E.2d 546 (1965), see 3 Ga. St. B.J. 219 (1966). For comment on Bateman v. Bateman, 224 Ga. 20, 159 S.E.2d 387 (1968), see 5 Ga. St. B.J. 263 (1968).



  • General Consideration
  • Effect of Divorce
  • Application

General Consideration

Parental duty of support and maintenance.

- There is imposed upon parents the natural duty to support and maintain their children. Pettigrew v. Williams, 65 Ga. App. 576, 16 S.E.2d 120 (1941).

Trial court's determination to terminate a father's parental rights was supported by clear and convincing evidence pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-11-94(b)(4)(C)(ii)-(iii) since he had a history of alcohol and drug abuse, admitted that he needed financial help to support his children, had not offered any support during the period that they were in temporary custody as required by O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2, and failed to achieve any of the goals of the agency's case plan for him. In the Interest of D.L., 268 Ga. App. 360, 601 S.E.2d 714 (2004).

Parent had a statutory duty to support the parent's children, with or without a court order, and an order terminating a father's parental rights was supported by, among other things, a lack of evidence that the father had provided any support for the child. In the Interest of M.L.S., 273 Ga. App. 554, 615 S.E.2d 615 (2005).

Parental duty exists, even though children have property of their own.

- It is the duty of a parent, having ability to do so, to support, educate, and maintain the parent's minor children, although children may have property of their own. Nunn v. Burger, 76 Ga. 705 (1886); Pettigrew v. Williams, 65 Ga. App. 576, 16 S.E.2d 120 (1941).

In case of inability of parent to provide for children from the parent's own means, the ordinary (now judge of probate court) may grant an order allowing use of estate in the parent's hands as guardian of the parent's child. Prime v. Mapp, 80 Ga. 137, 5 S.E. 66 (1888); Crawford v. Broomhead, 97 Ga. 614, 25 S.E. 487 (1895).

When situation and circumstances of parent are such that parent is not financially able to properly support and educate children, allowance for that purpose may be made from children's estate, but regard should be had to circumstances of particular case, and such allowance to parent may, in a proper case, be made either as provision for future or as reimbursement for past expenditures. Pettigrew v. Williams, 65 Ga. App. 576, 16 S.E.2d 120 (1941).

Duration of parental duty to support.

- Parent is obligated to support child until the child reaches majority or becomes emancipated. Walsh v. Walsh, 240 Ga. 154, 240 S.E.2d 702 (1977).

When a West German judgment imposed child support until the children completed college, and there was no evidence concerning a statutory termination date under West German law, the issue of when the child support payments will be terminated remained for determination, and was not ripe for review. Knothe v. Rose, 195 Ga. App. 7, 392 S.E.2d 570 (1990).

Parent is not required to support child after the child reaches majority. Tilly v. Canedy, 217 Ga. 63, 121 S.E.2d 144 (1961); Newton v. Newton, 222 Ga. 175, 149 S.E.2d 128 (1966); Crane v. Crane, 225 Ga. 605, 170 S.E.2d 392 (1969) (But see O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e), added in 1992).

Loss of custody does not relieve parent of legal obligation.

- Award of custody of child to some other person, by reason of misconduct on part of parent, of itself does not relieve parent of legal obligation to support the child. Brown v. Brown, 132 Ga. 712, 64 S.E. 1092, 131 Am. St. R. 229 (1909).

Father's surrender of parental rights and consent to adoption did not release him from his support obligation under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2. Department of Human Resources v. Cowan, 220 Ga. App. 230, 469 S.E.2d 384 (1996).

Support award not precluded by custody award.

- Judgment awarding joint legal custody of a child does not preclude a monetary award of child support. Hunt v. Carter, 261 Ga. 259, 404 S.E.2d 121 (1991).

Inalienability of child's right to parental support.

- Neither wife nor civil courts can take away child's rights to be provided for by both parents and, specifically, a wife cannot contract away right of child to be supported by the child's father. Crumb v. Gordon, 157 Ga. App. 839, 278 S.E.2d 725 (1981).

Surrender of parental rights does not alter support obligation.

- Father's execution of a surrender of parental rights and final release for adoption did not terminate his obligation to support his children; he was obligated to support the children until and unless a court order altered that obligation, his belief regarding their adoption notwithstanding. Department of Human Resources v. Baker, 222 Ga. App. 664, 476 S.E.2d 41 (1996).

Attaining majority or marriage of child terminates parents' support obligation.

- When child reaches majority, statutory and common-law duty of parents to support child ceases and should a minor marry, the duty of the parent to support the child ceases because such child is no longer a member of the parents' household. Golden v. Golden, 230 Ga. 867, 199 S.E.2d 796 (1973).

Requirement to provide child support beyond age of majority may not be imposed. Clavin v. Clavin, 238 Ga. 421, 233 S.E.2d 151 (1977); Coleman v. Coleman, 240 Ga. 417, 240 S.E.2d 870 (1977); Barnes v. Justis, 219 Ga. App. 815, 467 S.E.2d 3 (1996) (But see O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e), added in 1992).

Courts cannot require a parent to support a child beyond the age of majority. Crawford v. Kalman, 166 Ga. App. 712, 305 S.E.2d 442 (1983) (But see O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e), added in 1992).

Legislative exception for mentally ill children.

- General Assembly might conceivably make exception regarding children born mentally ill and remaining so beyond majority or who become ill later on in life and remain so after reaching majority. Crane v. Crane, 225 Ga. 605, 170 S.E.2d 392 (1969).

Duty of parent to support children ceases generally upon parent's death. Clavin v. Clavin, 238 Ga. 421, 233 S.E.2d 151 (1977).

No application to alimony.

- Statute had no application to proceedings for alimony. Barlow v. Barlow, 161 Ga. 202, 129 S.E. 860 (1925), criticized, Mell v. Mell, 190 Ga. 511, 9 S.E.2d 756 (1940); Eskew v. Eskew, 199 Ga. 513, 34 S.E.2d 697 (1945).

Relation to § 19-6-15. - Former Code 1933, § 74-105 (see now O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2) was foundation upon which remedy provided in former Code 1933, § 30-207 (see now O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15) rests. Mell v. Mell, 190 Ga. 508, 9 S.E.2d 756 (1940).

Death of a child resulting from a negligent omission to comply with the parental duty stated in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2 would amount to involuntary manslaughter by the commission of an unlawful act. Lewis v. State, 180 Ga. App. 369, 349 S.E.2d 257 (1986).

When O.C.G.A.

§ 19-8-6 not necessarily violated. - While divorce decree wherein mother waived child support was ineffective to modify statutory duty imposed upon father, his good faith reliance upon the decree constitutes a reasonable excuse for failing to provide for care and support of child; if an excuse is reasonable, although not legal, absence of legal excuse does not demand finding that O.C.G.A. § 19-8-6 has been violated. Crumb v. Gordon, 157 Ga. App. 839, 278 S.E.2d 725 (1981).

In contempt proceedings to enforce a support order, the trial court does not have authority to modify the order, and this includes modification of support obligations covered by O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2. Department of Human Resources v. Tabb, 221 Ga. App. 766, 472 S.E.2d 540 (1996).

Support may not be modified in contempt proceedings.

- In a contempt proceeding brought by the Georgia Department of Human Resources, the trial court erred in modifying a parent's child support obligation and in forgiving a portion of the arrearage because the court lacked authority to modify support orders in contempt proceedings and O.C.G.A. § 19-6-17(e)(1)-(3) precluded retroactive modification of child support. Ga. Dep't of Human Res. v. Gamble, 297 Ga. App. 509, 677 S.E.2d 713 (2009).

Effect of third parties on obligation.

- Parent's legal obligation to support is not governed by whether some third party asks the parent to support the child; and the parent's legal obligation to support the child cannot be diminished, waived, or mitigated by any third persons except as this may affect the question of willful and wanton failure to support. Westberg v. Stamm, 162 Ga. App. 369, 291 S.E.2d 439 (1982).

Joint rights in action for expenses.

- Since the language of O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2 has been amended to reflect that it is the joint and several duty of each parent to support his or her minor children, it follows that an action to recover medical expenses of a minor is now vested exclusively in both parents. Rose v. Hamilton Medical Ctr., Inc., 184 Ga. App. 182, 361 S.E.2d 1 (1987), cert. denied, 184 Ga. App. 182, 361 S.E.2d 1 (1987).

"Medical bills," in the allocation of statutory duties to a child in a divorce decree, are construed to include those reasonable charges of professionals in generally recognized fields of health care that are required to maintain a child in good health, and to correct or alleviate any physical or mental dysfunction, including the reasonable cost of services required for the child's dental health and the reasonable costs of providing corrective devices, such as eyeglasses, required by the child's optical needs. Stone v. Tillis, 258 Ga. 17, 365 S.E.2d 110 (1988).

Adult child not resident of parent's home.

- Adult child's intent to live in the parent's home does not make the adult child a resident of the household for insurance purposes. As an adult, the child may only reside at the parents' home with their permission and consent. Tuttle v. America First Ins. Co., 187 Ga. App. 68, 369 S.E.2d 342 (1988).

Agreement for payments exceeding guidelines.

- Contractual agreement for modification providing for child support payments that exceed the statutory guidelines did not contravene O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15 or the public policy of the state. Kendrick v. Childers, 267 Ga. 98, 475 S.E.2d 604 (1996).

Cited in Bulloch v. Bulloch, 45 Ga. App. 1, 163 S.E. 708 (1932); De Loach v. Waters, 54 Ga. App. 386, 188 S.E. 58 (1936); Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277, 58 S. Ct. 205, 82 L. Ed. 252 (1937); Harwell v. Gay, 186 Ga. 80, 196 S.E. 758 (1938); Edwards v. Addison, 187 Ga. 756, 2 S.E.2d 77 (1939); Alexander v. Lamar, 188 Ga. 273, 3 S.E.2d 656 (1939); Moore v. Moore, 188 Ga. 314, 4 S.E.2d 18 (1939); Chapin v. Cummings, 191 Ga. 408, 12 S.E.2d 312 (1940); Brackett v. Glaze, 72 Ga. App. 314, 33 S.E.2d 733 (1945); Colson v. Huber, 74 Ga. App. 339, 39 S.E.2d 539 (1946); Whitehurst v. Singletary, 77 Ga. App. 811, 50 S.E.2d 80 (1948); Strouse v. Barron, 212 Ga. 777, 95 S.E.2d 791 (1956); Murphey v. Murphey, 215 Ga. 19, 108 S.E.2d 872 (1959); Southern Ry. v. Neeley, 101 Ga. App. 488, 114 S.E.2d 283 (1960); Grimes v. Harvey, 219 Ga. 675, 135 S.E.2d 281 (1964); Brazell v. Anderson, 113 Ga. App. 15, 146 S.E.2d 921 (1966); Strange v. Strange, 222 Ga. 44, 148 S.E.2d 494 (1966); Barnwell v. Cordle, 438 F.2d 236 (5th Cir. 1971); City of Dalton v. Webb, 131 Ga. App. 599, 206 S.E.2d 639 (1974); Williamson v. State, 138 Ga. App. 306, 226 S.E.2d 102 (1976); Quarles v. Quarles, 237 Ga. 703, 229 S.E.2d 452 (1976); J.L. v. Parham, 412 F. Supp. 112 (M.D. Ga. 1976); Leitzke v. Leitzke, 239 Ga. 17, 235 S.E.2d 500 (1977); Hall v. Hall, 240 Ga. 28, 239 S.E.2d 356 (1977); Greer v. Moss, 240 Ga. 121, 239 S.E.2d 685 (1977); Kosikowski v. Kosikowski, 240 Ga. 381, 240 S.E.2d 846 (1977); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 98 S. Ct. 549, 54 L. Ed. 2d 511 (1978); Simonds v. Simonds, 145 Ga. App. 227, 243 S.E.2d 545 (1978); McLean v. McLean, 242 Ga. 71, 247 S.E.2d 867 (1978); Williamson v. Alderman, 148 Ga. App. 297, 251 S.E.2d 153 (1978); Ford v. Ford, 243 Ga. 763, 256 S.E.2d 446 (1979); Jones v. Jones, 244 Ga. 32, 257 S.E.2d 537 (1979); Allison v. Fulton-DeKalb Hosp. Auth., 245 Ga. 445, 265 S.E.2d 575 (1980); Hicks v. Fulton County Dep't of Family & Children Servs., 155 Ga. App. 1, 270 S.E.2d 254 (1980); State v. Causey, 246 Ga. 735, 273 S.E.2d 6 (1980); Stewart v. Stewart, 160 Ga. App. 463, 287 S.E.2d 378 (1981); Worthington v. Worthington, 162 Ga. App. 813, 292 S.E.2d 861 (1982); In re C.C.B., 164 Ga. App. 3, 296 S.E.2d 198 (1982); Estes v. State, 251 Ga. 347, 305 S.E.2d 778 (1983); Department of Human Resources v. Brinson, 171 Ga. App. 905, 321 S.E.2d 763 (1984); Wood v. Wood, 257 Ga. 598, 361 S.E.2d 819 (1987); Weaver v. Chester, 195 Ga. App. 471, 393 S.E.2d 715 (1990); In re A.R.B., 209 Ga. App. 324, 433 S.E.2d 411 (1993); State v. Roberts, 234 Ga. App. 522, 507 S.E.2d 194 (1998); Loveless v. State, 245 Ga. App. 555, 538 S.E.2d 464 (2000); Brandenburg v. Brandenburg, 274 Ga. 183, 551 S.E.2d 721 (2001); Dep't of Corr. v. Barkwell, 256 Ga. App. 877, 570 S.E.2d 13 (2002); In the Interest of A.T., 271 Ga. App. 470, 610 S.E.2d 121 (2005); In the Interest of J.Q.W., 288 Ga. App. 444, 654 S.E.2d 424 (2007).

Effect of Divorce

Duty under statute did not cease upon separation or divorce of parents. Mell v. Mell, 190 Ga. 508, 9 S.E.2d 756 (1940).

Fact that father, subsequent to divorce decree, voluntarily assumed additional obligation of second family by marriage did not authorize termination of obligation to daughter by former marriage, especially since it was shown that the income of the father had substantially increased since the date of the alimony decree. Strickland v. Strickland, 220 Ga. 69, 137 S.E.2d 31 (1964).

Duty of parents to support their children is joint and several and does not cease upon separation or divorce of the parents. Collins v. Collins, 172 Ga. App. 748, 324 S.E.2d 475 (1984).

Divorce decree cannot waive a minor child's right to support. International Indem. Co. v. Collins, 258 Ga. 236, 367 S.E.2d 786 (1988).

Noncustodial parent's support obligation.

- Award of custody pursuant to divorce decree does not relieve noncustodial parent of support obligation. Garrett v. Garrett, 172 Ga. 812, 159 S.E. 255 (1931).

Child support required in divorce decree.

- Obligation of support for child can be made a requirement of divorce decree. Jenkins v. Jenkins, 233 Ga. 902, 214 S.E.2d 368 (1975).

Trial court's discretion regarding child support.

- In divorce action, trial court is vested with wide discretion regarding child support and should take into consideration the needs of the child and station of life of the parties. McClain v. McClain, 237 Ga. 80, 227 S.E.2d 5 (1976).

Award of child support substitutes for support required of parent by statute. Golden v. Golden, 230 Ga. 867, 199 S.E.2d 796 (1973); Clavin v. Clavin, 238 Ga. 421, 233 S.E.2d 151 (1977).

Divorce court may not require parent to provide life insurance for benefit of child absent voluntary assumption of such obligation. Clavin v. Clavin, 238 Ga. 421, 233 S.E.2d 151 (1977).

Month child attains majority included in support payment.

- Decree ordering child support payment to include month child attains majority is illegal on the order's face. Kimble v. Kimble, 240 Ga. 100, 239 S.E.2d 676 (1977).

Custodial parent acquires no interest in support awarded to children.

- When alimony is awarded to support minor children, custodial parent acquires no interest in the funds as such parent is a mere trustee charged with the duty of seeing that the funds are applied solely for the benefit of the children. Custodial parent cannot consent to reduction or remission of alimony, and ordinarily cannot relieve the other parent of paying alimony as directed by the court. O'Neil v. Williams, 232 Ga. 170, 205 S.E.2d 226 (1974).

Child support, unlike alimony, is always subject to revision under modification statute, even though entered into by contractual agreement. McClain v. McClain, 237 Ga. 80, 227 S.E.2d 5 (1976).

Modification action as exclusive remedy for obtaining additional support.

- When the divorce decree does, at the very least, address a question concerning the liability of the noncustodial parent for child-support-obligation items, a modification action under O.C.G.A. § 19-6-19 is the custodial parent's exclusive remedy in regard to supplementing the decree with a provision obligating the noncustodial parent to pay additional child support. Conley v. Conley, 259 Ga. 68, 377 S.E.2d 663 (1989).

When parties may contract to settle child support.

- Parties may enter into a written contract during the pendency of a divorce or alimony suit to settle child support for minor children and when such a contract is approved by the court and incorporated into the final divorce decree, the contract is fully enforceable as an adjudication on that issue. If support is sought for a child who has passed the age of majority, the agreement must contain specific language stating that support will continue. Crawford v. Kalman, 166 Ga. App. 712, 305 S.E.2d 442 (1983).

Contract may not provide for custody of child already reaching majority.

- If a child has already reached the age of majority before a support agreement is signed, a provision awarding custody of the child to one of the child's parents is null and void. Crawford v. Kalman, 166 Ga. App. 712, 305 S.E.2d 442 (1983).

Promise to pay child support for non-biological child.

- Trial court erred by requiring an ex-spouse to pay child support for a child of whom the ex-spouse was not the biological parent of, despite allegedly promising to pay, because the trial court incorrectly applied the doctrine of promissory estoppel to the agreement as there was no evidence that the promise to pay support caused the parent/ex-spouse of the child to forego, in reliance upon such promise, a valuable legal right to the actual parent's/ex-spouse's detriment. Garcia v. Garcia, 284 Ga. 152, 663 S.E.2d 709 (2008).

Periodic support payments do not constitute penalty.

- Requirement of periodic support payments is not, strictly speaking, in nature of a penalty, but is merely enforcement of a legal obligation by summary process, and it cannot be imposed as a penalty or punishment since the purpose of the order is to secure a reasonable allowance for the wife's support. Hudson v. State, 248 Ga. 397, 283 S.E.2d 271 (1981).

Modification action as exclusive remedy for obtaining additional support.

- When the divorce decree does, at the very least, address a question concerning the liability of the noncustodial parent for child-support-obligation items, a modification action under O.C.G.A. § 19-6-19 is the custodial parent's exclusive remedy in regard to supplementing the decree with a provision obligating the noncustodial parent to pay additional child support. Conley v. Conley, 259 Ga. 68, 377 S.E.2d 663 (1989).

Because: (1) a settlement agreement between a mother and father was not silent as to child support; and (2) an action for modification was the exclusive remedy for obtaining a provision supplementing the child support award contained in a divorce judgment, the trial court correctly treated the father's request to establish child support as one for modification. Drake v. Drake, 279 Ga. App. 576, 632 S.E.2d 165 (2006).


1. In General

Voluntary contract of relinquishment of parental control must be supported by legal consideration, which is sufficient when third person, who claims right to child's custody under voluntary contract with parent, has assumed all responsibility of child's maintenance, education, and protection. Waldrup v. Crane, 203 Ga. 388, 46 S.E.2d 919 (1948).

Execution of a surrender of parental rights by father did not release him from his support obligation because there was no court order providing for the adoption of his children or otherwise terminating his support obligation. Department of Human Resources v. Tabb, 221 Ga. App. 766, 472 S.E.2d 540 (1996).

Person to whom parental rights are alienated.

- When parental duty and control is lost or alienated to third person by any of the means recognized by law, then such third person stands in loco parentis to the child, and duty and obligation to provide for the child's welfare and protection devolves upon such third person. Waldrup v. Crane, 203 Ga. 388, 46 S.E.2d 919 (1948).

Application to termination of parental rights.

- Because the Department of Children and Families presented sufficient evidence of a father's neglect of two children, lack of any meaningful parental bond, repeated incarceration, and failure to pay child support, the juvenile court, when coupled with the father's acknowledgment that the children thrived in the current placement, was authorized to find that sufficient evidence was presented to support a finding that deprivation of the two children by the father was likely to continue and that termination of the father's parental rights was in the childrens' best interest; furthermore, a claim that the father lacked knowledge of, and was not directed to pay child support, was irrelevant in light of the directive found in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2 that a parent had a statutory duty to pay child support, with or without a court order. In the Interest of T.C., 281 Ga. App. 137, 635 S.E.2d 395 (2006).

While the evidence showed that a mother failed to pay child support while her son was in foster care, the juvenile court did not address whether that failure was "without justifiable cause," as required by former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-94(b)(4)(C) (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-310) in order to authorize the termination of the mother's rights. There was nothing in the numerous reunification plans, progress reports, and court orders that notified the mother of her obligation to pay child support, let alone any notice of how much to pay, when, and to whom. In the Interest of D. P., 326 Ga. App. 101, 756 S.E.2d 207 (2014).

Abandonment and wrongful death.

- Father lacked standing to recover for the child's wrongful death pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 19-7-1(c) and51-4-4 as the father abandoned the child pursuant to § 19-7-1(b)(3); the father never supported the child, nor did the father ever visit the child in the many years after the child's hospitalization in infancy, there was no evidence that the father attempted to learn where the child resided in order to initiate visitation or support, and the father was obligated under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2 to support the child, even though the divorce decree did not require support. Baker v. Sweat, 281 Ga. App. 863, 637 S.E.2d 474 (2006).

On death of parent having custody under divorce decree, right to custody automatically inures to surviving parent. Raily v. Smith, 202 Ga. 185, 42 S.E.2d 491 (1947).

Effect of custody agreement on obligation to Department of Human Resources.

- Custody agreement between a father and his children's maternal grandmother did not relieve the father of any obligation to reimburse the Department of Human Resources for public assistance benefits payments made on behalf of his children. Department of Human Resources v. Prince, 198 Ga. App. 329, 401 S.E.2d 342 (1991).

Father's alleged support erroneously deemed to meet support obligations.

- When the plaintiff brought a petition to adopt defendant's child, and the trial court found that although the defendant had legitimated the child in New York where the New York court had not entered a support order on behalf of the child, but for a period of 12 months prior to the filing of the plaintiff's petition, the defendant sent $20.00 in child support to his child and clothing valued at $8.99, had a gross income of $13,163, had not seen the child for more than one year, but did make telephone calls to check on the child's welfare on various occasions, the trial court used an erroneous legal theory in concluding that the defendant had not failed to provide for the care and support of his child as required by O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2. Pacella v. Sanchez, 191 Ga. App. 611, 382 S.E.2d 371 (1989).

Failure to support child as abandonment under § 19-10-1. - Failure to comply with duty to support child imposed by former Code 1933, 74-105 (see now O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2) constituted intentional and willful voluntary abandonment within the meaning of former Code 1933, § 74-9902 (see now O.C.G.A. § 19-10-1). Williamson v. State, 138 Ga. App. 306, 226 S.E.2d 102 (1976).

When court may subsequently modify support order.

- Since order entered in prosecution for abandonment is not a final order, modification of order for periodic payments in favor of wife, either by increase, decrease, or total discontinuance, is within the discretion of the court, and such order will be modified when the financial conditions of the parties change or other proper reasons exist. Hudson v. State, 248 Ga. 397, 283 S.E.2d 271 (1981).

Child support separate from divorce action.

- Although the complaint in the divorce action did not seek child support, the custodial spouse was not barred from enforcing the responsibility of the non-custodial spouse to support the child, and the custodial spouse may institute an original action for an award of child support. Hackbart v. Hackbart, 272 Ga. 26, 526 S.E.2d 840 (2000).

Deprivation of children supported by lack of parental support.

- Trial court's determination that the children's deprivation for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 15-11-94 resulted from the lack of proper parental care or control was supported by sufficient evidence that the mother did not pay any child support for her five children during the two years preceding the termination hearing, leaving the Department of Children and Families to support her children for two years; the mother had a statutory duty under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2 to support her children, with or without a court order. In the Interest of J.J., 259 Ga. App. 159, 575 S.E.2d 921 (2003).

Mother's failure to contribute to a child's support was evidence supporting a finding of the lack of proper parental care or control as a cause of the child's deprivation for purposes of terminating the mother's parental rights. In the Interest of K.N., 272 Ga. App. 45, 611 S.E.2d 713 (2005).

Despite recent efforts made by the mother to comply with some of the case plan goals, the trial court was entitled to place more weight on negative past facts than positive promises as to the future and to find that the deprivation was likely to continue in light of the mother's past conduct; clear and convincing evidence established that the deprivation was likely to continue since the facts showed that the mother failed to complete the agency's reunification plan, failed to complete drug treatment, had repeated incarcerations, and failed to support the children as required by O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-94(b)(4)(C)(ii) and19-7-2. In the Interest of A.H., 278 Ga. App. 192, 628 S.E.2d 626 (2006).

Juvenile court's termination of a mother's parental rights over her child was proper pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-11-94 since her lack of proper parental care or control amounted to deprivation to the child under O.C.G.A. § 15-11-2 as she failed to establish a bond with the child or substantially complete any of the goals of her reunification plan, and she did not provide support to the child under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2; further, the deprivation was deemed likely to continue, it would likely result in harm to the child, and the child's best interest was served by termination of the mother's rights as the child had formed a bond with the foster parent. In the Interest of J.D., 280 Ga. App. 861, 635 S.E.2d 226 (2006).

2. Education

Obligation to provide education beyond terms of compulsory law.

- No means are provided to enforce obligation to provide education beyond terms of the compulsory attendance law. Jenkins v. Jenkins, 233 Ga. 902, 214 S.E.2d 368 (1975). (But see O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e), added in 1992).

No requirement to pay for education beyond age of majority.

- Since a parent is not liable for child support or maintenance after a child achieves the age of majority, a divorced father's obligation to continue making support payments to his child depended upon the terms of the agreement between the parties in question as reflected in the divorce decree. Additionally, no requirement to pay for his child's education beyond the age of majority could be imposed by the court. Still v. Still, 199 Ga. App. 723, 405 S.E.2d 762 (1991). (But see O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e), added in 1992).

When college education may be considered a necessity.

- Depending on the family's life style and economic situation, a college education may be considered a necessity. Coleman v. Coleman, 240 Ga. 417, 240 S.E.2d 870 (1977).

Court's modification of settlement agreement was error.

- When divorced parties entered a settlement agreement that was incorporated into their divorce judgment that provided for the husband to pay college expenses for the parties' son, with the only limitation being that the amount was not to exceed the tuition that would be paid for in-state attendance at the University of Georgia, the trial court erred in imposing an 11-semester limitation on that obligation. Norris v. Norris, 281 Ga. 566, 642 S.E.2d 34 (2007).

Divorce decree may impose obligation to pay college expenses during minority.

- Trial court has jurisdiction to include in the divorce decree a provision for educational funds including expenses for attending college during minority where circumstances of case warrant it. Coleman v. Coleman, 240 Ga. 417, 240 S.E.2d 870 (1977).

Termination of judicially imposed obligation to pay college expenses.

- Any obligation imposed by the trial court's decree to provide educational funds including expenses for attending college terminates when the child reaches majority or marries. McClain v. McClain, 235 Ga. 659, 221 S.E.2d 561 (1975).

Any obligation to pay educational expenses of the child imposed by a decree terminates when the child reaches majority or marries. Coleman v. Coleman, 240 Ga. 417, 240 S.E.2d 870 (1977).

Distinction between alimony decree and contractual obligation to provide college education.

- There is a significant difference between alimony decree rendered under law and contract providing for college education of children even after the children reach age of majority which is incorporated into alimony decree. The latter is enforceable as a contract. McClain v. McClain, 235 Ga. 659, 221 S.E.2d 561 (1975).

3. Medical Care and Expenses

Right to recover damages for child's injuries.

- O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2 and case law make clear that the right to recover damages for a child's medical expenses vests solely in the child's parents, while the right to recover damages for pain and suffering vests in the child, not the parent. Grange Mut. Cas. Co. v. Kay, 264 Ga. App. 139, 589 S.E.2d 711 (2003).

When the decedent fell off the back of the charitable organization's fire truck during a service project, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to the church, the driver of the fire truck, and the commander of the organization on the negligence infliction of emotional distress claim of the decedent's son because, even if the son suffered a physical injury that would fall under the pecuniary loss exception to the impact rule, the son did not suffer a pecuniary loss as the son was not legally responsible for the cost of the son's treatment because the appellant, as the son's parent, was responsible for the son's medical expenses incurred in the son's treatment. Shamblin v. Corp. of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 352 Ga. App. 870, 836 S.E.2d 171 (2019).

Medical expenses incurred by reason of injury are necessaries. Evans v. Caldwell, 52 Ga. App. 475, 184 S.E. 440 (1936), aff'd, 184 Ga. 203, 190 S.E. 582 (1937); Jarrett v. State Merit Sys. of Personnel Admin., 205 Ga. App. 527, 423 S.E.2d 1, cert. denied, 205 Ga. App. 900, 423 S.E.2d 1 (1992); Southern Guar. Ins. Co. v. Sinclair, 228 Ga. App. 386, 491 S.E.2d 843 (1997).

4. Property

Parents are not required to settle an estate upon child.

- Parents' responsibility under former Code 1933, §§ 30-215, 30-207 and 74-105 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 19-6-13,19-6-15, and19-7-2) for support of child did not extend to awarding the child title to their property. Parents were not required to settle an estate upon the child. Clark v. Clark, 228 Ga. 838, 188 S.E.2d 487 (1972).

Reduction of parents' support obligation as a result of trust established by child's grandparent, the terms of which require use of trust funds for education and support of child during minority. McElrath v. Citizens & S. Nat'l Bank, 229 Ga. 20, 189 S.E.2d 49 (1972).


Whereabouts of minor child would clearly seem to fall within area of parental or guardianship responsibility and therefore primary responsibility for locating child who is absent from educational center or school on unauthorized basis would fall upon parents or other guardians or custodians. 1978 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 78-48.

Domicile of minor is that of minor's parents, but this can be altered when usual parental authority and control over minor is ended by voluntary or involuntary relinquishment. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 59 Am. Jur. 2d, Parent and Child, §§ 22, 45 et seq.


- 67A C.J.S., Parent and Child, § 156 et seq.


- Criminal liability of father for failure to support child who is living apart from him without his consent, 23 A.L.R. 864.

Criminal responsibility for abandonment or nonsupport of children who are being cared for by charitable institution, 24 A.L.R. 1075.

Illegitimate child as within statute relating to duty to support child, 30 A.L.R. 1075.

Civil liability of father for necessaries furnished to child taken from home by mother, 32 A.L.R. 1466.

Denial of, or expression of doubt as to paternity or other relationship as estoppel to assert right of inheritance by virtue of such relationship, 33 A.L.R. 579.

Extent or character of support contemplated by statute making nonsupport of wife or child offense, 36 A.L.R. 866.

Liability of parent for necessaries furnished to adult child, 42 A.L.R. 150.

One charged with desertion or failure to support wife or child as fugitive from justice, subject to extradition, 54 A.L.R. 281.

Appointment of guardian for infant as affecting rights and duties of parents, 63 A.L.R. 1147.

Child's ownership of or right to income or property as affecting parent's duty to support, or as ground for reimbursing parent for expenditures in that regard, 121 A.L.R. 176.

Criminal responsibility of parent under desertion or nonsupport statutes, as affected by child's possession of independent means, or by fact other persons supply his needs or are able to do so, 131 A.L.R. 482.

Construction and application of statute charging father and mother jointly with child's care and support, 131 A.L.R. 862.

Parent's obligation to support adult child, 1 A.L.R.2d 910; 48 A.L.R.4th 919.

Liability of mother's husband, not the father of her illegitimate child, for its support, 90 A.L.R.2d 583.

Nature of care contemplated by statute imposing general duty to care for indigent relatives, 92 A.L.R.2d 348.

Award of custody of child where contest is between child's father and grandparent, 25 A.L.R.3d 7.

Power of divorce court, after child attained majority, to enforce by contempt proceedings payment of arrears of child support, 32 A.L.R.3d 888.

Right of child to enforce provisions for his benefit in parents' separation or property settlement agreement, 34 A.L.R.3d 1357.

Divorce: provision in decree that one party obtain or maintain life insurance for benefit of other party or child, 59 A.L.R.3d 9.

Liability of parent for support of child institutionalized by juvenile court, 59 A.L.R.3d 636.

Permitting child to walk to school unattended as contributory negligence of parents in action for injury to or death of child, 62 A.L.R.3d 541.

Validity, construction, and application of statute imposing upon stepparent obligation to support child, 75 A.L.R.3d 1129.

Father's liability for support of child furnished after divorce decree which awarded custody to mother but made no provision for support, 91 A.L.R.3d 530.

Parent's obligation to support unmarried minor child who refuses to live with parent, 98 A.L.R.3d 334.

Propriety of decree in proceeding between divorced parents to determine mother's duty to pay support for children in custody of father, 98 A.L.R.3d 1146.

Responsibility of noncustodial divorced parent to pay for, or contribute to, costs of child's college education, 99 A.L.R.3d 322.

Validity and effect, as between former spouses, of agreement releasing parent from payment of child support provided for in an earlier divorce decree, 100 A.L.R.3d 1129.

Child's right of action for loss of support, training, parental attention, or the like, against third person negligently injuring parent, 11 A.L.R.4th 549.

Postsecondary education as within nondivorced parent's child-support obligation, 42 A.L.R.4th 819.

Stepparent's postdivorce duty to support stepchild, 44 A.L.R.4th 520.

Postmajority disability as reviving parental duty to support child, 48 A.L.R.4th 919.

Right to credit on child support payments for social security or other government dependency payments made for benefit of child, 34 A.L.R.5th 447.

What voluntary acts of child, other than marriage or entry into military service, terminate parent's obligation to support, 55 A.L.R.5th 557.

Liability of father for retroactive child support on judicial determination of paternity, 87 A.L.R.5th 361.

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