Child support laws are designed to make sure that minor children get the financial support they need from both parents, even when the parents are no longer together. Every state’s child support laws are slightly different, so if you have questions about child support in the State of Georgia, contact a Carrollton family law attorney.
Calculation Of Child Support In Georgia
In 2007, the Georgia legislature changed the way child support is calculated. Georgia currently follows the “income shares” model of child support calculation. First, both parents’ incomes are determined. Income from all sources is counted, including wages, bonuses, commissions, self-employment income, pensions, Social Security payments, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation payments, and investment income. A parent how is found to be deliberately unemployed or underemployed may have income imputed, meaning a court may calculate what the parent should be earning, based on their age, education level, and skills.
After the total income of both parents is determined, the total child support obligation, based on the parents; combined income, is found on a table found in the Georgia Code. Each parent’s individual obligation is calculated according to the parent’s share of their combined income. For example, if the parents’ combined income is $5,000 per month, the total child support obligation for one child would be $917. If both parents’ incomes are the same, each would be responsible for one-half of the total support obligation.
Many factors can affect the final amount owed by the non-custodial parent, including which parent pays for child care, insurance, medical bills, and other expenses for the child.
How Your Custody Arrangement Can Affect Child Support
There are two types of child custody in Georgia: legal custody, which determines who may make legal, medical, educational, and other decisions for the child, and physical custody, which determines where the child will live. Parents may have sole legal or physical custody, or joint legal or physical custody. The amount of child support may be adjusted according to the amount of time the child is in the physical custody of each parent. If one parent has sole physical custody, the child is with that parent 100% of the time. In the example above, the non-custodial parent would be obligated to pay one-half of the $917 total support obligation to the custodial parent. If the non-custodial parent spends more time with the child than regular visitation, the amount of child support may be decreased.
Can Child Support Be Modified?
Child support in Georgia is never fixed forever. Changes in the circumstances for either parent may justify a modification of a support order. Some circumstances which may justify modification include:
- Loss of a job
- Illness or disability of the child
- A significant increase in income for either party
A Carrollton, Georgia child support attorney can help if you believe modification of your child support amount is necessary.
Child Support Enforcement
The Georgia Division of Child Support Services, a branch of the Department of Human Services, is responsible for enforcing child support orders. Some actions that may be taken against a parent who refuses to pay court-ordered child support are:
- Withholding the amount from the obligor’s paycheck, unemployment benefits, or worker’s compensation payments.
- Taking money from state or federal income tax refunds.
- Suspend the obligor’s driver’s license or professional licenses.
- Place a lien on the obligor’s property.
- Find the obligor in contempt of court, with fines and possible jail time as penalties.
A Georgia family law attorney can assist a custodial parent in collecting child support, including filing an action for contempt of court and initiating the necessary procedures for garnishment of wages, placing liens on the property, and intercepting income tax refund checks.
Enforcing Out Of State Orders In Georgia
Child support orders from other states may be enforced by the Georgia Division of Child Support Services, just as if the order had been entered by a Georgia court. A Georgia support order can also be enforced in any other state if the obligor moves. Even if the non-custodial parent cannot be found, the Federal Parent Locator Service may be employed to find him/her.
When Does A Support Obligation End?
The obligation to pay child support ends when the child reaches the age of 18, unless the child is still a full-time high school student, in which case it can continue until the child reaches the age of 20. If a child is disabled and unable to live independently, the child support obligation may continue past the age of 18, and perhaps may last as long as the child lives.
Talk To A Carrollton Family Law Attorney
It is always best to have an experienced child support attorney on your side, especially when the other parent is represented. An attorney can help uncover hidden assets and income sources if the other parent is trying to minimize their support obligation. If you believe the other parent is trying to remain unemployed for the purpose of avoiding a child support obligation or increasing your obligation, you will need the advice of a child support expert. In some cases, the other parent may be ordered to pay some or all of your attorney’s fees.