When couples with children divorce in Georgia, they must resolve a number of complex issues, not the least of which is child support. Determining the amount and timing of child support payments is an issue that often lead to disputes between divorcing parents. If you are going through a divorce, it helps to have an knowledgeable and empathic family law attorney on your side.
At E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC, we are committed to achieving the best possible results for you and your children, whether through negotiation or litigation. Well-versed in Georgia child support laws, our objective insights can help you achieve a successful resolution of your case. We routinely handle all child support-related matters, including:
- Establishing child support orders
- Modifying child support orders
- Enforcing child support orders
Backed by our extensive experience handling child support matters in either highly contested or collaborative divorces, we manage each case with the personal attention it deserves. By understanding your needs, we will work diligently to resolve your child support disputes.
How is child support determined in Georgia?
First, it is important to note that parents in Georgia are responsible for the financial support for their child until he or she reaches the age of 18 and graduates from high school, with a few minor exceptions. In the past, child support was determined based on the income of the noncustodial parent. After sweeping changes to the child support laws in 2007, the state now relies on an “income-shares” model to determine the amount of child support that will be awarded. This model considers the income of both parents, as well as several other factors.
The courts start by determining the total gross income of each parent from all sources, including salary, bonuses, commission, self-employment income, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, and any other sources of income.
Then, certain expenses are deducted from the gross income amount, such as existing child support payments, and child care expenses not subject to the child support order. The income of both parents is combined to arrive at a Combined Adjusted Income. This amount is entered into a worksheet, along with the number of children to determine a presumptive child support amount. A percentage each parent’s contribution to the combined income figure determines each parent’s child support obligation.
Other factors involved in determining child support include:
- Healthcare expenses — Both parents are responsible for the child’s healthcare expenses
- Child care expenses — Daycare costs or school-related costs
- Low or high income parents — The court may allow adjustments if a parent’s income is not sufficient to pay the determined child support payments or a parent’s income is high enough to warrant an increase the payments
- Parenting time — The court can adjust the child support payment if the noncustodial parent has more parenting time that typical, and thus spends more money on childcare during this time
Can child support be modified?
In Georgia,It is possible to request a modification of child support if there is been a substantial change of financial circumstances affecting either parent. The court may grant a modification when:
- The paying parent involuntarily loses his or her job
- The paying parent experiences a significant increase or decrease in income
- The needs of the child increas
- Either parent become physically disabled
- There is a change made in the child custody agreement (e.g the child moves in with the paying parent)
It is important to note that you must wait 2 years from the date of initial child custody order to request a modification, or 2 years after a prior child custody modification has been granted.
Child Support Enforcement
If your ex or your child’s father fails to abide by the terms of a child support order, or stops making payments entirely, attorney E.N. Banks-Ware can help by filing an order with the court. While there may be a legitimate reason your ex has not made the payments, such as a sudden illness or an involuntary job loss, if the child support order was violated without cause, the court may:
- Order payments to be deducted from his or her paycheck
- Place a lien on personal property
- Freeze bank accounts
If your ex knowingly or willfully violated the child support order, you ex may also be found in contempt of court.
Contact Our Lithonia Child Support Attorney
Going through a divorce is never easy, and even more difficult when children are involved. When you consult us, you can rest assured that we will work diligently to resolve your child support issues. With her experience in collaborative law divorce, attorney E.N. Banks-Ware has the proven skills to negotiate the best outcome for you. At the same time, she is fully prepared to litigate your case and will fight to protect your interests and children. Regardless of your situation, you will have confidence knowing that a dedicated family law attorney is on your side. Please contact our office today to set up a consultation.