Georgia child support laws for noncustodial parents underwent a radical change in 2007. Prior to this, child support was based on the income of only the noncustodial parent. Then the state shifted to the income shares model for calculating support. This model or formula uses both parents’ incomes and includes other factors as well.
How Much Is Child Support in Georgia?
Child support is calculated using the Georgia child support worksheet and the parents’ gross – not net – incomes. Income according to Georgia law includes money resulting from numerous sources, including wages and salaries as well as capital gains, Social Security, income from annuities, rental income, bonuses, commissions, unemployment insurance and severance pay. The worksheet determines how much of this total income from both parents should be dedicated to the care and needs of their children based on the number of children in the family. This is referred to as a presumptive child support amount.
Each parent is responsible for a portion of this presumptive amount based on the percentage of the total combined incomes each earns. For example, if Mom earns $4,000 a month and Dad earns $2,000 a month, Mom would be responsible for approximately 66 percent of the presumptive figure and Dad would be responsible for about 33 percent.
The law presumes that the custodial parent pays for the children’s needs directly by providing food and shelter and meeting other expenses. The noncustodial parent must make a financial contribution in the form of child support. If Dad is the noncustodial parent, he must pay Mom 33 percent of the presumptive amount as child support, so Dad would owe Mom $247.50 a week, or 33 percent, if the presumptive amount was $750 a week.
You can get a Georgia child support worksheet from numerous sources online, but the Georgia Child Support Commission strongly advises parents to use only the one found on its own website. Some commercial calculators have been way off in arriving at the correct amount.
How Is Child Support Paid?
With few exceptions, Georgia state law requires that support be paid by noncustodial parents through income withholding. The state notifies the parent’s employer when a child support order goes into effect, obligating the employer to withhold the appropriate amount from the noncustodial parent’s pay and to send that money to the state. The state then transmits the payment to the custodial parent. This procedure allows the state to keep track of payments.
Some exceptions exist, however. A noncustodial parent who isn’t subject to wage withholding should send his payments to the Georgia Family Support Registry so the state can monitor the transactions and make sure he gets credit for all payments made.
Deviations From Standard Calculations
Georgia courts and the Georgia child support calculator can deviate from the statutory calculations when parents share joint custody or the noncustodial parent has his children with him for significantly more time than the national average.
Georgia’s child support guidelines and the state’s judges can also deviate from the calculated amount of child support to address premiums for health insurance coverage for the children, as well as costs of any extraordinary medical expenses not covered by insurance. The court can order either parent to purchase health insurance for the kids if either of them can get coverage at a reasonable cost. This additional expense is then considered in the amount of child support ordered to be paid.
Child care costs can also be figured in, and these costs are also divided between parents according to the percentage each contributes to their overall combined incomes. Other possible deviations can address extraordinary educational expenses, any child-related tax credits the custodial parent might be eligible to claim, and whether one parent is also paying alimony to the other.
Child Support Enforcement in Georgia
Like most states, Georgia takes child support collection seriously. Noncustodial parents who fall behind in support payments can be subject to a number of enforcement measures. Federal or state tax refunds can be intercepted and used to offset the debt. The Georgia Child Support Commission can report the delinquency to credit bureaus. It can have driver’s licenses or professional licenses revoked or suspended, intercept lottery winnings, file liens against property and bank accounts or suspend, deny or revoke a noncustodial parent’s passport. In the worst case scenario, a nonpaying parent can be found in contempt of court and be subject to fines or even jail time.
When Does Child Support End?
Child support is payable in Georgia until a child reaches the age of 18, unless the child is still in high school at that time. In this case, support would continue until he finishes school or reaches his 20th birthday, whichever occurs first. This rule covers all support orders and divorce decrees issued after 1993. Support always ended at age 18 before this time.
- children image by Orlando Florin Rosu from Fotolia.com