Our experts evaluate the most critical aspects of Georgia child support law. These factors affect child support payments and changes.
Divorce can be challenging and emotionally draining for every family member. While parents want to protect their children from pain, they also want to make sure they are well able to meet their needs in the future. Therefore, Georgia's child support laws ensure that both parents can support their children financially after separation or divorce. These laws are designed to protect the best interests of children while providing the financial support they need to thrive.
Let's take a look at what these laws mean: how child support is calculated, factors that affect payment, how to make changes to an existing order, and what to consider when creating a parenting plan.
How does Georgia calculate child support?
In Georgia, child support laws generally require the noncustodial parent to pay the custodial parent a reasonable amount for the child's maintenance. In addition to monthly or weekly payments, these can also be medical, dental and insurance costs, as well as child care costs.
While parents can agree to pay tuition for children 18 and older, Georgia law allows custody orders for children 18 and older only with mutual consent. Without an agreement, children who turn 18 and graduate from high school are considered "too old" for child support purposes.
Belinda Martin, an attorney with Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor, suggests starting the process by having your attorney complete a detailed electronic form that the court will use to determine child support. These are developed based on both parties' gross monthly income and other factors such as health insurance, child care costs, and any specific costs related to children.
When calculating the amount of child support, the law considers the following additional factors:
- Joint income of both parents
- Individual income and earning potential of both parents
- Number of children in need
- time spent with children
The formula used by the court is based onBasic form of child support obligationsDecidechild support amountTherefore, the court must have accurate information about the income of both parents in order to determine a reasonable amount. The state assumes that the amount calculated by the court in accordance with state guidelines is appropriate; however, you may argue that a different amount is more appropriate in your case.
"Child support can be received or paid by one party directly to the other party, or through an income deduction order. It is taken directly from someone's check through the state of Georgia and then given to the recipient.
— Belinda Martin，Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor
Factors Affecting Child Support Payments
Child support refers only to financial payments, not legal or physical custody. While physical and legal custody can sometimes affect child support levels, the decisions are separate.
While the court uses the basic schedule of child support obligations as the primary formula for determining how much is owed, it recognizes that every family is different. judges sometimes deviatefrom the guideTo avoid unfair or inappropriate judgment.
In addition to the parents' personal and joint income and the number of children, the following factors also affect benefits.
Parent-child time and guardianship arrangements
The amount of time each parent spends with their child significantly affects support. Typically, the non-custodial parent (who spends less time with the child) pays the custodial parent's fees.
However, the judge can change the amount if the parenting time is different. For example, a child support plan may direct the noncustodial parent to pay the custodial parent $1,000 per month.
Assume parents agree to a 60/40 split of parenting time. That's more than any other weekend and Monday night visiting schedule. Since the non-primary parent will pay more through more visitation, the judge can reduce the amount to $800.
If parenting time is divided evenly, the person with the highest income may still pay child support, but it may also result in neither parent paying child support.
The court also focused on health insurance and child care. These numbers are added to the debt as needed and distributed according to a formula.
an important change
Changing an existing order requires a significant change in the parent or child's circumstances. If one parent is disabled and can no longer support him/her earning a living, the court can adjust the formula according to these circumstances.
Likewise, if the child has special needs, has unusual educational costs, or has additional medical costs, the judge will also consider these.
In most cases, the court will also look at the standard of living prior to the divorce or separation.
5 tips for parents to keep in mind when creating a parenting plan
For parents currently going through the steps and emotions of divorce, creating a parenting plan can be daunting. So, do your best to prepare for this part of the journey to make sure you create a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your child and yourself. Here are five helpful tips to help you prepare for conversations about your children and their future:
- Gather all the data about your financial situation. Have your pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns and bank statements ready.
- Obtain a statement from the person paying for the child's health insurance. The related costs must be related to the child only; human resources can usually tell you how much your children's health insurance will cost.
- Explain how much you paid and figure out what it will look like in the future. Do you have a service in your life that could scale?
- Forecast additional costs of separation from family and income after divorce.
- understand the concept ofparenting timeIn the event of parental time deviations where agreement cannot be reached, the judge will decide how to allocate visitation time - and may order deviations from standard visitation time based on extenuating circumstances.
“For example, in jet lag, the judge might say, well, I know the calculator says you should pay $1,000 a month, but since you have the extra time, I’ll cut it down to $800.”
— Belinda Martin，Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor
What to do if you need to change your existing child support arrangements
Georgia law allows either parent to file a motion to change an initial child support award if material circumstances change after a divorce. Think about loss of job or income, illness, incapacity, increased income, or increased expenses for children. It can also change if the original permission decision changes.
In order for the court to approve the change, you must meet certain conditions. You have to:
- Provide information to demonstrate a material change in circumstances
- explain why the change is in the best interest of the child
- Prepare and file petitions under Georgian law
Hiring a lawyer can help you manage the proceedings, make sure you meet the requirements and understand all legal ramifications of the change.
In addition, because the primary concern and consideration in custody and guardianship is always the welfare and best interests of the child, the court will consider several factors when making an amendment order, including:
- Maintain stability
- sibling relationship
- Impact on children's social development
- child's preferences
- Cooperation of each parent in the daily needs of the child
- Likelihood of arranging adequate child care
Young Nursing Professionals Facilitating the Process
Georgia requires both parents to maintain a child after a divorce or divorce until the child turns 18. Entering into a child support agreement can add extra stress to an already difficult time; while parents want the best support for their children, they often worry about the consequences of paying bills that are financially crippling or unable to adequately support their children.
At Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor, we know that every family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Our top legal team specializes in divorce and family law.
With up-to-date knowledge of Georgian law and our many years of expertise, we can help you find the pathway that best suits your child's well-being. From alimony and child custody to parental rights and property division, we simplify the legal process and help you avoid pitfalls and complications.
Do you need guidance or assistance in the legal process of determining, challenging or amending child benefit payments?Get in touch now.
Georgia uses an "income-sharing" approach to determine the amount of support. Basically, the amount each parent will have to pay in child support will be based upon both the parents' joint incomes, minus any deductions and other financial obligations each parent shoulders.What is the minimum child support for one child in Georgia? ›
Based on the incomes of the parties and their individual percentage of the total parental income, the obligations of each parent are calculated. For example, if the total gross income for both parents is $10,000 per month, the presumptive support amount is $1,259 per month for one child.How far behind in child support before you go to jail in Georgia? ›
File a Criminal Abandonment Warrant. If the other parent does not pay any support for more than 30 days, he or she can be charged with abandonment. Contact the Clerk of Courts in your county to find out how to file these charges. If the other parent is found guilty, he or she may be placed in jail.How much should a father pay in child support in Georgia? ›
The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent.Can a mother take a father off child support in Georgia? ›
If a parent wishes to modify a child support order, they must file a petition with the court and provide evidence of the changed circumstances. The court will review the petition and may hold a hearing to determine if a modification is appropriate.Does a father pay child support with 50 50 custody in Georgia? ›
In the state of Georgia, when two parents share equal parenting time for the children, the parent who makes a higher income is the one who becomes responsible for paying child support.What is typical child support in Georgia? ›
If Parent “A”, who makes 60% of the total income, is the non-custodial parent they would be responsible for 60% of the base amount. The calculation of child support is then calculated as $1,749 (base amount) x . 60 (60% obligation) = $1,049.40 (the basic child support obligation).What happens if a father doesn t pay child support in Georgia? ›
If a parent does not obey a support order, he or she may be found in contempt of court. A contempt action may be filed against the NCP who fails to make support payments or does not maintain the required medical insurance. NCPs found in contempt of court may be fined, sentenced to jail, or both.At what age can a child refuse to see a parent in Georgia? ›
Under the Georgia Code, children who are 14 years of age may refuse visitation with the other parent. This means that your child can't unilaterally decide to stop visiting their other parent but can state their wishes or preferences with the court's approval.Is it a felony to not pay child support in Georgia? ›
Is Unpaid Child Support “Illegal”? It is a misdemeanor to fail to support your dependents. Back child support becomes a felony in Georgia when a person reaches the third offense for failing to pay or leaves the state. Once arrested for criminal nonsupport, a person could spend one to three years in prison.
Child support in Georgia
When parents share joint physical custody, the higher-earning one generally pays support. But if the parents have similar incomes, then no one pays support. A judge (or a jury, in rare cases) determines payment amounts, using Georgia's child support formula (outlined below) as a guideline.
If a parent is unemployed, under-employed or dishonest in reporting gross income, the Georgia law allows the court to assign income to that parent. Previously, Georgia courts could impute minimum-wage earnings from a 40-hour workweek to an under-employed parent.What determines child support amount in GA? ›
Georgia uses an "income-sharing" approach to determine the amount of support. Basically, the amount each parent will have to pay in child support will be based upon both the parents' joint incomes, minus any deductions and other financial obligations each parent shoulders.Who pays child support if father is a minor in Georgia? ›
If both parents are under 18 (and unemancipated) at the time of the child's conception, their parents (the child's grandparents) share primary responsibility for supporting the child. This responsibility lasts until both minor unemancipated parents become age 18 or are emancipated.Does the custodial parent have to pay child support in Georgia? ›
The parent with whom the children lives (“custodial parent”) pays his/her amount by providing things the child needs; the other parent (“non-custodial parent”) pays his/her amount by making payments to the custodial parent.How to reduce child support in GA? ›
If you want to lower your monthly obligation, you must prove to the Georgia family law courts that there has been a substantial change. If you can successfully prove this in court, then there is a good chance that Georgia's family courts will approve your petition for a modification.