Georgia Child Support Guidelines
The first step in determining the correct amount of child support is to accurately calculate the total income of each parent. Income from all sources will be in the calculation. This includes salaries and bonuses, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation payments, Social Security payments, investment income, income from self-employment, and work-related benefits such as housing allowances.
Once the total income of both parents has been calculated, the two incomes added together to determine the base amount of support, listed on a table found in the Georgia Code at O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15. The table lists the base amount of support at each income level for one, two, three, or more children. For a family with two children with a combined monthly income of $2,000 per month, the base amount of child support is $624.00. Next, they need to determine the relative percentages of the total family income that each parent contributes.
For example, if the non-custodial parent contributes 80% of the total family income, that parent is responsible for 80% of the child support obligation, or about $499 per month. The non-custodial parent would have a requirement to pay $499 per month to the custodial parent.
Imputing Income for your Georgia Child Support Payments
A court may impute income to that parent at times. Subsequently, this can happen when a parent is intentionally out of work or not employed to their potential. This can be based on the parent’s age, health, job skills, education, and ability to work. A court will also consider whether the parent owns substantial assets that are inconsistent with the amount of income reported by the parent. Income may not be imputed when the parent is actively pursuing education or job training that will ultimately benefit the children. Consequently, when the parent cares for a handicapped child or adult, this is taken in to consideration. The court will also consider when the parent is handicap. The court will consider if a parent has been out of the workforce due to caring full-time for the children.
Whenever there is any dispute about the actual incomes of the parents, an experienced Columbus child support attorney can help.
Adjustments to Child Support Guidelines
Adjustments to a parent’s income, or to the amount of child support listed in the guidelines, may be made in certain circumstances, including:
- Self-employment taxes paid by a parent.
- Pre-existing child support orders for which one parent actively pays to another parent.
- Work-related child care expenses.
- Health insurance premiums and uninsured medical expenses for the children
- High income. If the combined monthly income of the parents exceeds $30,000 per month, the court may award support over the guidelines amounts.
- Low income. A parent may request a modification if he can prove that the amount of support required by the guidelines would present a severe economic hardship.
- Mortgage payments. If the non-custodial parent pays rent or mortgage payments on the children’s residence, those payments may be considered.
- Alimony payments.
- Travel expenses for visitation.
- Life insurance premiums.
The Effect of Shared Custody On Child Support
If the parents share custody of the children, the amount of time spent with each parent is a consideration in the determination of the amount of child support. As in the previous example, if the parents’ combined income is $2,000 per month, the parent who contributes 80% of the household income would owe $499 in support. On the other hand, if the children spend 50% of their time with that parent, the amount would reduce by half. This brings the total amount owed to $250 per month.
When a determination decision occurs on child support, only the physical custody of the children is taken in to consideration. The parents may share joint legal custody. In other words, they share decisions regarding medical care, education, and other matters for the children. However, if one parent has sole physical custody, due to the guidelines, there will not be an adjustment on the child support amount.
May A Georgia Child Support Order Have a Modification?
Child support orders may have a modification if there is a substantial change in circumstances for either parent. A parent who wants to modify an existing child support order must file a petition to change the order. Next, they must prove that the change in circumstances warrants a modification. To clarify, this is an illness or disability, a change in job status, or a substantial change in income. Talk to a Columbus family law attorney if you believe your current child support order needs a change.
How Is A Child Support Order Enforced?
A parent who fails to keep up with court-ordered child support may be subject to different penalties.
- Garnishment. The Division of Child Support Enforcement or a court may order garnishment of the parent’s wages, unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits, or other payments.
- Liens on assets. The parent’s assets, which include real estate and personal property, can have a lien on them.
- Seizure of government checks. A seizure of state and federal income tax refunds can occur.
- Criminal penalties. The parent can be guilty of contempt of court and may be subject to fines or imprisonment.
- Attorney’s fees. The court may order a parent to pay some or all attorney’s fees of the other parent when attempting to collect child support.
Call A Columbus, Georgia Child Support Lawyer
Navigation of the Georgia child support system can be complex and stressful. A Columbus Family Law Attorney can help you determine the fair amount of support for your financial situation and can help collect support if the other parent refuses to pay.
If you pay child support and believe the amount needs an adjustment, a Columbus, Georgia child support attorney can help. He can collect and present the evidence necessary to justify modification of the order. Call Moffitt Law, LLC today.