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Ten Things You Need to Know About Georgia’s New Child Support Guidelines

On Monday, January 1, 2007, Georgia's New Child Support Guidelines became effective. Under the old guidelines, child support in Georgia was based primarily upon a percentage of the non-custodial parent's gross income. Under the new guidelines, the income or earning capacity of both parents will be used to allocate each parent's responsibility for a child's expenses. Emphasis will now be placed upon the needs of the child and the ability of each parent to contribute to those needs based upon their percentage of the couple's combined income or earning capacity. The following are:

Ten Things You Need to Know about Georgia's New Child Support Guidelines
  1. The new guidelines affect anyone currently paying or receiving child support in Georgia, regardless of when child support was originally ordered.

  2. In court proceedings regarding child support, both parents are now required to list their income and expenses on a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet contains four separate schedules, much like the schedules found in income tax returns.

  3. The worksheet and schedules required under the new guidelines must be submitted for both permanent and temporary court ordered child support, even in cases where both parents agree upon the amount of child support.

  4. The legislature is requiring that the new guidelines be applied in Superior Court divorce and paternity actions as well as Juvenile Court cases and any other action in which a parent's obligation for child support is being determined.

  5. The Basic Child Support Obligation is derived from a Child Support Obligation Table created by the legislature to correspond with the Combined Adjusted Income of both parents.

  6. The Child Support Worksheet and Schedules allow for "Adjustments" and "Deviations" based on shared custody arrangements, a parent's support to their other children, self-employment taxes, split parenting arrangements for two or more children, travel expenses incurred to exercise visitation, and other factors identified by the legislature as reasons to modify a parent's child support obligation.

  7. One of the newest deviations allowed under the guidelines is the Parenting Time Adjustment. The Parenting Time Adjustment gives the Court the discretion to reduce the Presumptive Amount of Child Support paid by a non-custodial parent who exercises more than standard visitation with their child.

  8. The new guidelines also establish a Self Support Reserve and Low Income Deviation which gives the Court the discretion to consider a reduction in the child support obligation of a non-custodial parent earning $1,850 per month or less, once various criteria are met and the impact upon the child and custodial parent are taken into consideration.

  9. In cases where a parent has no income or the amount of a parent's income is disputed, the court may consider past employment, education, training, assets, ability to work outside the home, etc., to determine the earning capacity of that parent and allocate child support based on earning capacity rather than actual income.

  10. If the difference between child support paid under the old guidelines versus child support paid under the new guidelines is fifteen percent (15%) or greater, a parent may file an action for Modification of Child Support under the new guidelines.

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