Child Support Laws in Georgia
The state of Georgia requires that parents provide adequate financial support for their minor children. A parent cannot waive child support on behalf of a child. Georgia changed to the “Income Share Model” of child support in 2007. Previously, child support was determined solely based on the non-custodial parent’s income and how many children were the subject of the order; most courts awarded 20% of the non-custodial parent’s income as child support, though the amount could be from 17% to 23%. The new model uses a worksheet to take a number of factors into account when awarding child support. This process is understandably complicated, so the assistance of an experienced Cumming family law attorney is important to ensure the best outcome for you and your child.
Who can collect child support?
Georgia allows any custodial parent or caretaker to seek child support from a parent who should be financially contributing to the child’s care. If you are seeking child support, an application can be filed either online or in person with the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services. Once the application is completed, Child Support Services will help you start with initial child support payments or seek back payments. A parent may also seek child support by hiring a family law attorney and pursuing a private lawsuit against the other parent. Child support is paid until the child reaches 18, dies, marries or is emancipated.
How is child support calculated in Georgia?
The current guidelines for calculating child support take into account not just the non-custodial parent’s income, but the gross income of both parents. The court will consider overtime, capital gains income, social security income, commissions, income from rental properties, and any other forms of income pre-tax when determining total income. There is a common misconception that receiving social security or unemployment means that you do not have to make child support payments, but this is not true.
The total income for each parent is then inputted into the worksheet along with the number of children receiving support to calculate the presumptive child support amount. Determined by the state legislature, this is the amount that the state believes is necessary to support the involved children on a monthly basis. The financial obligation of each parent is then calculated based on their individual income and what percentage of the overall parental income their income makes up.
Additional factors in calculating child support
The Income Share Model takes into account a number of other expenses related to raising a child when determining child support. Much of the time, a primary factor is the cost of childcare. In the previous model, the custodial parent was responsible for all childcare costs. Now, childcare expenses are also divided based on the pro rata share of support costs mentioned above. Payment of insurance premiums, extraordinary medical expenses, or extraordinary educational expenses may also be split in the same fashion.
Deviations from child support calculations
The court may decide to deviate from the child support worksheet if it is in the child’s best interest to do so. A parenting time deviation is one of the most common. This may be added to the worksheet if the parent paying support has a significant amount of parenting time. Standard visitation gives approximately 20% of parenting time to the non-custodial parent, so the court may rearrange the split of financial obligations if the division of parenting time deviates from the norm. Mortgage, alimony, travel expenses and insurance costs are also all examples of expenses that could impact how closely the court hews to the guidelines provided by the worksheet. The court’s ultimate duty is to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child.
If you have custody of a minor child, you are entitled to receive financial support from the child’s other parent. Georgia’s income share model allows the state to calculate what is necessary to support a child for the month and appropriately divide that amount between both parents, taking into account overall resources, income, and expenses. You will most likely want to consult an experienced family law attorney in Cumming, Georgia when you are seeking child support. An attorney familiar with Georgia child support cases will be able to help you navigate these complicated laws.