Effective July 1, 2009, O.C.G.A. §§ 10-1-393.9 and 393.10 require private child support collection companies to register and post a bond with the Secretary of State, and to file with the Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Division a sample copy of any contract 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:
- (1) An explanation of the nature of the services to be provided;
- (2) An explanation of the amount to be collected from the obligor (the party required to pay child support) by the private child support collector;
- (3) A statement of the total amount to be collected by the private child support collector;
- (4) 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;
- (5) 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;
- (6) 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;
- (7) 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;
- (8) 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;
- (9) The mailing address, telephone numbers, facsimile numbers, and e-mail address of the private child support collector;
- (10) 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;
- (11) 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
- (12) 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 collections company can contract to collect past due amounts. It also puts a ceiling on the fees that private child support companies can charge for their services: they may only charge fees of one-third the total amount of child support payments collected.
Importantly, a private child support collector cannot charge a client for collecting 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.