Newnan Child Support Attorney Fights for Fair Results
Georgia lawyer gives personal attention to small but vital details that determine outcomes
Georgia child support guidelines are based on parents’ total net income, but courts have the discretion to deviate from guideline amounts. So, if you want a fair outcome based on your true circumstances, there are two tasks your attorney must perform: first, making sure that each party presents a truthful and complete disclosure of their earnings and second, bringing to the court’s attention any relevant factors that argue for or against a deviation from the guideline amount. When you retain The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC, you get an attorney who is fully prepared to do just that. After more than 15 years of practice, I know how to use the laws and rules of procedure to benefit my clients. I pore over the details of both parents’ financials and the family’s circumstances to press for the best results possible.
How Georgia calculates child support
Most child support disputes arise during divorce but single parents can also seek child support orders after establishing paternity. Georgia uses the “income shares” model of child support. Both parents report their total earnings from all sources of income, and then make deductions according to certain allowances to arrive at their net income. Based on that net income and the number of children to be supported, the guidelines give an amount known as presumptive child support. This is the basic amount the state presumes a family under similar circumstances would spend a month raising their children. Then the court apportions the presumptive child support between the parents according to their percentage of the total net income.
For example, if the presumptive child support amount is $2,000 and the parents’ net income is divided 70/30 percent, the high-earning parent would pay $1,400 to support the children and the other parent would pay $600. How much the high-earning parent would ultimately pay to the other parent depends on how much time the children spend living with each parent. If the low-earning parent had sole physical custody, the high-earning parent would pay all of the $1,400. If the parents shared custody equally, the high-earning parent would likely pay less child support, or possibly none at all.
Courts have the discretion in some cases to deviate from the presumptive amount to account for such expenses as child care, medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums, costs of a child’s special medical needs, private school tuition and extracurricular activities. When special circumstances exist, it can be beneficial to negotiate an agreement and get court approval. This way, you exercise greater control over the outcome and avoid the risk of an adverse ruling.
Typically, the obligation to pay child support lasts until the child is emancipated or reaches the age of 18. Support for a child who is still in high school can last until the child turns 20.
Enforcing and modifying a child support order in Georgia
If a parent willfully refuses to pay child support, the recipient parent can seek a contempt order from the family law court. The court can implement such enforcement measures as:
- Garnishing wages
- Seizing assets
- Issuing an income deduction order
- Imposing jail time
If a parent does not have sufficient income or assets to make ordered payments, it may be possible to request a modification of the support order. Courts will modify an order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as:
- Prolonged illness
- Prolonged unemployment
It’s important to keep in mind that even if you have an informal agreement to pay less support while you’re going through hard times, the original support order entered by the court remains enforceable. That means the recipient parent can go to court at any time to enforce payment of child support arrears. The best step is to seek a modification as soon as it becomes apparent that you are not going to be able to meet your current obligations.
Contact a skilled Newnan child support lawyer for a free initial consultation
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC represents Georgia parents in child support disputes and other family law matters. Please call 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation at my Newnan office.