Ross is representing low-income people in child support proceedings and advocate for child support reform in order to end cycles of incarceration, impoverishment, and forceful separation of families.
Federal law requires courts to determine ability to pay before setting child support orders and issuing consequences for nonpayment, but Georgia frequently demands amounts that people cannot afford and then harshly punishes them for falling behind. By suspending driver’s licenses, garnishing wages, jailing parents for inability to pay, and continuing to impose debt during and following incarceration, the system unjustly separates children from their parents and solidifies poverty for the next generation.
In the past year, Ross has:
- Provided legal advice or assistance to over 170 people whose child support debt and criminal records pose barriers to employment, housing, and family strength
- Represented 29 parents—most incarcerated or formerly-incarcerated—to modify or correct inaccurate orders and debts, reinstate suspended driver’s licenses, and more effectively support their children
- Drafted and submitted applications and motions to expunge criminal records
- Delivered presentations and led workshops about criminal records and child support law in Georgia—and the desperate need to transform these systems—reaching over 340 people across the state
- Co-authored proposed legislation to revise Georgia’s Child Support Guidelines to ensure that orders are lawful, accurate, and effective
In the next year, Ross plans to:
- Increase representation of parents with criminal records and child support debt
- Launch a state-wide, coalition-based advocacy campaign to raise awareness about the inefficiencies and injustices of Georgia’s current child support system and bring about changes to that system
- Collect stories and data about parents who are incarcerated in Georgia jails and challenge the systemic practice of jailing people solely because they are too poor to pay off child support debt
- Create and distribute pro se materials and guides to help incarcerated parents modify child support orders and reinstate licenses that have been suspended due to unpaid debt