The Basics of Georgia Child Support Laws
For many parents who have either never been married or are divorced, child support plays a major role in their financial realities. While the laws can become rather complicated, having a cursory understanding of the basics of Georgia’s child support laws can help parents comprehend and plan for child support payments.
Income Shares Model of Child Support
In 2007, Georgia shifted from calculating child support based solely on the income of the non-custodial parent to incorporating many factors, including the total gross income of both parents. The current Income Shares Model is based upon the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents lived together.
Georgia’s child support guidelines (O.C.G.A §19-6-15) take into consideration the total gross income of both parents from all sources, including salaries, bonuses, commissions, unemployment, and income from self-employment, rental property, severance, annuities, capital gains, and social security. The total income for both parents is then input to the state’s child support worksheet, along with the number of children for whom support is being calculated. This results in a presumptive child support amount, or the total amount as determined by the Georgia Legislature that it should cost each month for the care and maintenance of the minor child or children.
Additional Factors of Georgia Child Support
Most often, the calculation of child support does not end at the presumptive child support amount. There are a number of other factors that may play a role in the calculation, including childcare, healthcare, and medical expenses. In these cases, parents will most often split these costs based upon each parent’s percentage of the pair’s total gross income.
Additionally, the Georgia child support guidelines allow for deviations of the support that might be either awarded or agreed upon by the parties. Some of these deviations are specified and others are unspecified. Some common deviations from the presumptive amount occur for extraordinary educational expenses, extracurricular activity fees, and parenting time (i.e. when the non-custodial parent has regular parenting time in excess of the standard for non-custodial parents, approximately 20% of the time). Deviations are discretionary with the trial judge who must determine that allowing for a deviation from the presumptive amount would benefit the best interests of the child.
Legal Representation for Issues of Child Support
For more information or to request a case evaluation, call our law office at (770) 822-0900. We have been very successful at reaching the best possible outcome for our clients, and our attorneys are here to help you through this difficult and stressful time.