How Child Support Is Calculated in Georgia
As in most states, child support that is ordered by a Georgia court is paid to the parent having primary custody of the children. At one time, Georgia calculated child support based solely on the income of the non-custodial parent having the obligation to pay. But in 2007, Georgia switched to a system that considers the financial resources of both parents. This is known as the “income shares model.”
The rationale for the income shares model is that both parents have a duty to support their children. It is presumed that the parent with primary custody is, to the best of his or her ability, devoting resources to fulfill the child’s needs. The non-custodial parent’s obligation is adjusted to take that into account.
The basic child support obligation for both parents is determined by the Georgia Child Support Commission’s online calculator. It involves these steps:
- Determining each parent’s gross income from all sources, including investment income
- Adding the parents’ gross incomes to arrive at a combined income
- Finding the combined income total for the amount of children in the table
- Calculating each parent’s percentage of the combined income total
- Multiplying the percentage by the child support amount in the table
The non-custodial parent will pay his or her percentage of the basic support obligation to the custodial parent.
However, adjustments to each parent’s gross income are possible. For example, a parent can deduct payments he or she is making for support of another child. A parent can also deduct 50 percent of taxes on income from self-employment.
Conversely, a court can impute income to a parent who seems to be deliberately unemployed or underemployed or who is found not have fully disclosed income. The court can look at that parent’s educational and vocational qualifications, his or her earnings history, the relevant job market conditions and other relevant factors.
Although the calculated guideline child support amounts are usually awarded, there are sometimes deviations allowed for the sake of fairness. Two such deviations are child care expenses and health insurance premiums, which both parents must bear in the same ratio as their percentage of support.
In addition, a court may order a deviation for other reasons that are deemed to be in the child’s best interests, such as the child’s special health care or educational needs or either parent’s extraordinary expenses that might affect their ability to devote resources to meeting their obligations.
If you are in a situation where you are owed child support or are obligated to pay it, be aware that the calculation is not automatic. There are multiple factors that can be considered by the court, and you’ll benefit from having an experienced Georgia child support attorney guide you through the process.
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC represents Georgia parents in child support cases and other family law matters. Please call me at 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation at my Newnan office.