The process of establishing child support payments often causes anxiety for parents going through the divorce process or paternity suits. Most parents want to pay reasonable child support if they do not have primary custody of their children, but often worry about the impact of excessive and financially crippling payments. Others who anticipate being awarded primary custody worry they will not be able to support the child at the appropriate level.
Georgia Child Support Guidelines
Atlanta parents should know that the state of Georgia requires both parents to support their children until a child reaches the age of 18, dies, graduates from high school, marries, emancipates, or joins the military. However, support can extend past the age of 18, such as in the case of a child still in high school.
What am I required to pay?
The law requires noncustodial parents to pay a reasonable amount of child support to the custodial parent toward the child's living expenses. Child support, in addition to a monthly or weekly sum, may also include such items as health insurance and payment of medical and dental expenses.
In 2007, the state of Georgia made some sweeping changes to child support laws and adopted a more rigid structure for determining what needs to be paid. The most important changes to the law included the following:
- The law now takes into account the combined income of both parents, along with the number of children to be supported, in determining the child support obligation.
- If currently paying or receiving child support, you may be entitled to a modification of your support order based on a financial change in circumstances. In other words, you might pay a substantially different amount based on the 2007 changes to the law.
- The court cannot order parents to pay for college. However, parents may agree to pay child support beyond the age of 18 or to pay for college expenses.
- A child support obligation 'table" is now used to determine how much child support will be paid or received. With a more rigid structure, it is very important that courts have accurate information regarding each spouses income and earning potential when calculating that spouses ability to pay child support payments.
These guidelines take into account the incomes of both parents in determining the child support obligation, as shown in the following example:
Step 1: Gross Income
- Mother earns $60,000 annually
- Father earns $40,000 annually
Step 2: Combined Adjusted Income
- $100,000 divided by 12 months = $8,333.33
Step 3: Basic Child Support Obligation as provided by the table
Step 4: Pro Rata Division
- $60,000 divided by $100,000 = 60 percent (Mother)
- $40,000 divided by $100,000 = 40 percent (Father)
Step 5: Presumptive amount of Child Support
- Mother: $1,134.00 times 60% = $680.40
- Father: $1,134.00 times 40% = $453.60
Some factors that may warrant variations in child support include, but are not limited to:
- Ages of children
- A child's medical costs
- Educational costs
- Day care costs
- Shared physical custody arrangements, including extended visitations
- A party's other support obligations to another household
- A party's own medical expenses
- The income of the custodial parent
What if the child's other parent does not pay?
You have several remedies that may either be used separately or in conjunction with one another. The remedies include:
Our Child Support Attorneys
We understand child support at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor. Our attorneys keep up to speed on current child support guidelines and will guide you through the legal processes of determining, modifying, or appealing child support payments.
Attorney Mary Stearns-Montgomery has given several seminars on the new guidelines to other family law attorneys in Georgia, and serves on a subcommittee of the Georgia Child Support Guidelines Commission.
For additional information about child support, visit:
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