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Georgia Child Support
Child Support in Georgia

Both parents are liable for the support of minor children. The court may award child support to either parent based on their customary needs and the parents' ability to pay.

Georgia child support is typically calculated by using a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet shows an appropriate Georgia child support obligation according to each spouse's income and other factors such as taxes paid and retirement contributions, etc. Parents should also look at any appropriate Georgia child support deviation factors. Additional information about Georgia child support can be found in the Georgia state statutes.

The new Georgia child support guidelines became effective in January 2007. The court calculates the gross income of both the mother and the father. Gross income includes salary, wages, commissions, self-employed income, bonuses, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income, annuity income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker's compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, judgments from personal injury claims or other civil cases, gifts, prizes, alimony from persons not in the subject case, assets which are used for support of family, fringe benefits that significantly reduce living expenses, and any other income including imputed income. Variable income such as commissions or bonuses must be averaged over a reasonable period of time.

Georgia permits deductions to reflect self-employment taxes, if applicable. Child support may be adjusted at the discretion of the court, "if either parent is supporting his or her own children living in the home, but who are not the subject of this child support determination, [and] may reduce the gross income after calculating a theoretical child support order."

After combining both parents' incomes, the combined adjusted income can be checked against the Child Support Obligation Table to determine the Basic Child Support Obligation. Each parent's pro rata share of the Basic Child Support Obligation matches each parent's share of adjusted gross income. Thus, if the husband's adjusted gross income is $60,000 and the wife's is $40,000, his share is 60 percent, and hers is 40 percent.

Health insurance premiums and work-related chid care costs are prorated between the parents. The basic support obligation is the Presumptive Amount of Child Support, with an adjustment for insurance premiums and work-related child care costs.

According to the Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-12, 19-6-14, and 19-6-15, there are official child support guidelines set out in the statute that are to be followed in all cases in which the parents are not able to reach an agreement. In such cases there are factors that will be followed in special circumstances that include:

  • the age of the children;
  • a child's medical costs or extraordinary needs;
  • educational costs;
  • daycare costs;
  • shared physical custody arrangements;
  • a parent's support obligations to another household;
  • hidden income of a parent;
  • the income of the parent with custody;
  • contributions of the parents;
  • extreme economic circumstances;
  • a parent's own extraordinary needs;
  • historic spending levels of the family;
  • the cost of health and accident insurance coverage for the child; and
  • any extraordinary visitation travel expenses.

Other Expenses and Deductions

Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive. Extraordinary medical expenses are a permissive deduction, and childcare expenses are a mandatory deduction.

The court may order health insurance premiums or work-related child care.

Child Support Enforcement

The Division of Child Support Services can be reached by phone at 1-877-423-4746, and offers self-service options. A parent can access information about payment history, debit card balance, arrears balance, court information including date and time, and license suspensions.

The Division of Child Support Services offers service at 80 offices across the state.

The DCSS promotes family self-sufficiency and stability, while reducing the public burden of supporting financially abandoned children.

Awards of child support shall accrue interest at the rate of 7 percent per annum. The court has discretion in applying or waiving past due interest.

More information about Georgia Child Support Enforcement can be found at their website.

Emancipation

Child support ends when child turns 18, or if child is in high school then when he or she turns 20. The duration of child support is required to continue until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated. Generally, the court may extend the support when the child is attending a secondary school until age 20.

Deviation Factors

When ordering a deviation from the presumptive amount of child support established by the statutory guidelines, the court's order contains written findings of fact stating:

  • the reasons for the deviation from the presumptive child support order;
  • the amount of child support that would have been required;
  • how the application of the child support guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate; and
  • how the best interests of the child will be served by the deviation.

No deviation in the amount of the child support obligation shall be made that seriously impairs the ability of the custodial parent to maintain minimally adequate housing, food, and clothing for the child, and to provide other basic necessities.

In deviating from the child support guidelines, the court may consider:

  • time-related travel expenses due to substantial distance between the parties;
  • extraordinary expenses other than health insurance premiums or work-related child care;
  • extraordinary educational expenses; and
  • special child-rearing expenses, such as food, clothing, hygiene, summer camps, lessons, travel, bands, clubs, athletics, and other activities intended to enhance the social or cultural development of a child.

There are specific deviations that may be applicable in some cases. These include low income, high income, parenting time, other health-related insurance, life insurance, child and dependant care tax, visitation-related travel expenses, alimony paid, mortgage (if noncustodial parent is providing for the cost of the home where the child resides), and permanency plans or foster care plans. Additionally, there is a catch-all (non-specific) deviation that allows any deviation the court or jury finds may be appropriate and in the best interest of the child.

Private school tuition, for instance, is a deviation factor.

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