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 leads to disputes between divorcing parents. If you are going through a divorce, it helps to have a 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 of 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 in 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