The following is a summary of Georgia child support laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Georgia Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Calculating Child Support in Georgia.

Like all states, Georgia has child support guidelines to determine how much child support should be ordered when two parents divorce. Generally, the following steps are taken to calculate the child support obligation:

  1. Determine the monthly gross income of both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent.
  2. Adjust each parent’s monthly gross income by deducting the following from the parents’ monthly gross income
    1. One-half of the amount of self-employment taxes;
    2. Preexisting child support orders; and
    3. Credits for other qualified child(ren) living in the parent’s home for whom the parent owes a legal duty of support, if allowed by the court.
  3. Add each parent’s adjusted income together to compute the combined adjusted income;
  4. Locate the basic child support obligation by referring to the child support obligation table. Using the figure closest to the amount of the combined adjusted income, locate the amount of the basic child support obligation in the column underneath the number of children for whom support is being determined. If the combined adjusted income falls between the amounts shown in the table, then the basic child support obligation shall be based on the income bracket most closely matched to the combined adjusted income;
  5. Calculate the pro rata share of the basic child support obligation for the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent by dividing the combined adjusted income into each parent’s adjusted income to arrive at each parent’s pro rata percentage of the basic child support obligation;
  6. Find the adjusted child support obligation amount by adding the additional expenses of the costs of health insurance and work related child care costs, prorating such expenses in accordance with each parent’s pro rata share of the obligation and adding such expenses to the pro rata share of the obligation. The monthly cost of health insurance premiums and work related child care costs shall be entered on the Child Support Schedule D — Additional Expenses. The pro rata share of the basic child support obligation and the pro rata share of the combined additional expenses shall be added together to create the adjusted child support obligation;
  7. Determine the presumptive amount of child support for the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent resulting in a sum certain single payment due to the custodial parent by assigning or deducting credit for actual payments for health insurance and work related child care costs;
  8. In accordance with subsection (i) of this Code section, deviations subtracted from or increased to the presumptive amount of child support are applied, if applicable, and if supported by the required findings of fact and application of the best interest of the child standard. The proposed deviations shall be entered on the Child Support Schedule E — Deviations. In the court’s or the jury’s discretion, deviations may include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. High income;
    2. Low income;
    3. Other health related insurance;
    4. Child and dependent care tax credit;
    5. Travel expenses;
    6. Alimony;
    7. Mortgage;
    8. Permanency plan or foster care plan;
    9. Extraordinary expenses;
    10. Nonspecific deviations; and
    11. Parenting time;
  9. The final child support order shall be the presumptive amount of child support as increased or decreased by deviations. The final child support amount for each parent shall be entered on the child support worksheet, together with the information from each of the utilized schedules.

 -From Section §19-6-15 of the Georgia Code.

Gross Income.

Gross income of each parent shall be determined in the process of setting the presumptive amount of child support and shall include all income from any source, before deductions for taxes and other deductions such as preexisting orders for child support and credits for other qualified children, whether earned or unearned, and includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Salaries;
  2. Commissions, fees, and tips;
  3. Income from self-employment;
  4. Bonuses;
  5. Overtime payments;
  6. Severance pay;
  7. Recurring income from pensions or retirement plans including, but not limited to, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Keoghs, and individual retirement accounts;
  8. Interest income;
  9. Dividend income;
  10. Trust income;
  11. Income from annuities;
  12. Capital gains;
  13. Disability or retirement benefits that are received from the Social Security Administration pursuant to Title II of the federal Social Security Act;
  14. Workers’ compensation benefits, whether temporary or permanent;
  15. Unemployment insurance benefits;
  16. Judgments recovered for personal injuries and awards from other civil actions;
  17. Gifts that consist of cash or other liquid instruments, or which can be converted to cash;
  18. Prizes;
  19. Lottery winnings;
  20. Alimony or maintenance received from persons other than parties to the proceeding before the court; and
  21. Assets which are used for the support of the family.

Self-Employment Income.

Income from self-employment includes income from, but not limited to, business operations, work as an independent contractor or consultant, sales of goods or services, and rental properties, less ordinary and reasonable expenses necessary to produce such income. Income from self-employment, rent, royalties, proprietorship of a business, or joint ownership of a partnership, limited liability company, or closely held corporation is defined as gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required for self-employment or business operations. Ordinary and reasonable expenses of self-employment or business operations necessary to produce income do not include:

  1. Excessive promotional, travel, vehicle, or personal living expenses, depreciation on equipment, or costs of operation of home offices; or
  2. Amounts allowable by the Internal Revenue Service for the accelerated component of depreciation expenses, investment tax credits, or any other business expenses determined by the court or the jury to be inappropriate for determining gross income.

In general, income and expenses from self-employment or operation of a business should be carefully reviewed by the court or the jury to determine an appropriate level of gross income available to the parent to satisfy a child support obligation. Generally, this amount will differ from a determination of business income for tax purposes.

Fringe Benefits.

Fringe benefits for inclusion as income or “in kind” remuneration received by a parent in the course of employment, or operation of a trade or business, shall be counted as income if the benefits significantly reduce personal living expenses. Such fringe benefits might include, but are not limited to, use of a company car, housing, or room and board. Basic allowance for housing and subsistence and variable housing allowances for members of the armed services shall be considered income for the purposes of determining child support. Fringe benefits do not include employee benefits that are typically added to the salary, wage, or other compensation that a parent may receive as a standard added benefit, including, but not limited to, employer paid portions of health insurance premiums or employer contributions to a retirement or pension plan.

Variable Income.

Variable income such as commissions, bonuses, overtime pay, and dividends shall be averaged by the court or the jury over a reasonable period of time consistent with the circumstances of the case and added to a parent’s fixed salary or wages to determine gross income. When income is received on an irregular, nonrecurring, or one-time basis, the court or the jury may, but is not required to, average or prorate the income over a reasonable specified period of time or require the parent to pay as a one-time support amount a percentage of his or her nonrecurring income, taking into consideration the percentage of recurring income of that parent.

Gross income does not include benefits received from means-tested public assistance programs, child support payments received for the benefit of a child of another relationship, or social security benefits.

-From Section §19-6-15 of the Georgia Code.

Deviation from Child Support Guidelines.

Application of the child support guidelines shall create a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support awarded is the correct amount of support to be awarded. A written finding or specific finding on the record for the award of child support that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption in that case. The court may vary the final award of child support from the guidelines upon a written finding that the presence of one or more of the following special circumstances makes the presumptive amount of support either excessive or inadequate:

  1. Ages of the children;
  2. A child´s extraordinary medical costs or needs in addition to accident and sickness insurance, provided that all such costs or needs shall be considered if no insurance is available;
  3. Educational costs;
  4. Day-care costs;
  5. Shared physical custody arrangements, including extended visitation;
  6. A party´s other support obligations to another household;
  7. Income that should be imputed to a party because of suppression of income;
  8. In-kind income for the self-employed, such as reimbursed meals or a company car;
  9. Other support a party is providing or will be providing, such as payment of a mortgage;
  10. A party´s own extraordinary needs, such as medical expenses;
  11. Extreme economic circumstances including but not limited to:
    1. Unusually high debt structure; or
    2. Unusually high income of either party or both parties, which shall be construed as individual gross income of over $75,000.00 per annum;
  12. Historical spending in the family for children which varies significantly from the percentage table;
  13. Considerations of the economic cost-of-living factors of the community of each party, as determined by the trier of fact;
  14. In-kind contribution of either parent;
  15. The income of the custodial parent;
  16. The cost of accident and sickness insurance coverage for dependent children included in the order;
  17. Extraordinary travel expenses to exercise visitation or shared physical custody; and
  18. Any other factor which the trier of fact deems to be required by the ends of justice.

-From Section §19-6-15 of the Georgia Code.

Duty to Provide Child Support.

The duty to provide support for a minor child shall continue until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated, whichever first occurs. However, the court has discretion to direct either or both parents to provide financial assistance to a child who has not previously married or become emancipated, who is enrolled in and attending a secondary school, and who has attained the age of majority before completing his or her secondary school education, provided that such financial assistance shall not be required after a child attains 20 years of age.

-From Section §19-6-15 of the Georgia Code.

Definitions.

“Custodial parent” means the parent with whom the child resides more than 50 percent of the time. Where a custodial parent has not been designated or where a child resides with both parents an equal amount of time, the court shall designate the custodial parent as the parent with the lesser support obligation and the other parent as the noncustodial parent. Where the child resides equally with both parents and neither parent can be determined as owing a greater amount than the other, the court shall determine which parent to designate as the custodial parent for the purpose of this Code section.

“Noncustodial parent” means the parent with whom the child resides less than 50 percent of the time or the parent who has the greater payment obligation for child support. Where the child resides equally with both parents and neither parent can be determined as owing a lesser amount than the other, the court shall determine which parent to designate as the noncustodial parent for the purpose of this Code section.

“Parenting time adjustment” means an adjustment to the noncustodial parent’s portion of the basic child support obligation based upon the noncustodial parent’s court ordered visitation with the child. For further reference see subsection (g) of this Code section.

“Split parenting” can occur in a child support case only if there are two or more children of the same parents, where one parent is the custodial parent for at least one child of the parents, and the other parent is the custodial parent for at least one other child of the parents. In a split parenting case, each parent is the custodial parent of any child spending more than 50 percent of the time with that parent and is the noncustodial parent of any child spending more than 50 percent of the time with the other parent. A split parenting situation shall have two custodial parents and two noncustodial parents, but no child shall have more than one custodial parent or noncustodial parent.

“Health insurance” means any general health or medical policy. For further reference see paragraph (2) of subsection (h) of this Code section.

“Uninsured health care expenses” means a child’s uninsured medical expenses including, but not limited to, health insurance copayments, deductibles, and such other costs as are reasonably necessary for orthodontia, dental treatment, asthma treatments, physical therapy, vision care, and any acute or chronic medical or health problem or mental health illness, including counseling and other medical or mental health expenses, that are not covered by insurance. For further reference see paragraph (3) of subsection (h) of this Code section.

“Work related child care costs” means expenses for the care of the child for whom support is being determined which are due to employment of either parent. In an appropriate case, the court may consider the child care costs associated with a parent’s job search or the training or education of a parent necessary to obtain a job or enhance earning potential, not to exceed a reasonable time as determined by the court, if the parent proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the job search, job training, or education will benefit the child being supported. The term shall be projected for the next consecutive 12 months and averaged to obtain a monthly amount. For further reference see paragraph (1) of subsection (h) of this Code section.

-From Section §19-6-15 of the Georgia Code.

Links.

Estimate your child support obligation with this free Georgia Child Support Calculator.

Find out about child support enforcement in the state of Georgia.

 

This information has been summarized from the Georgia statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Georgia divorce statutes online here: Georgia Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL CHILD SUPPORT LAWS.

GO TO ANOTHER DIVORCE ARTICLE.

 

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