CHILD SUPPORT: OVERVIEW
The issue of child support frequently comes up in the area of family law. Whether you are going through a divorce, seeking to legitimize a child, dealing with a contempt action, or you are trying to modify a prior custody or visitation order, child support will generally be involved when your case deals with children in some capacity.
Child support is defined by law as “the monthly amount of support displayed on the child support obligation table which corresponds to the combined adjusted income and the number of children for whom child support is being determined.” O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(a)(3). More directly, child support is the monthly amount of money one parent is required to pay to the other for the support of their children when the parents do not reside in the same household.
Child support amounts vary from case to case and are determined based on a variety of factors, including the gross monthly income of each party, the number of children for which child support is being calculated, and adjustment variables known as deviations (see below for a further discussion on deviations).
We are focused on helping our clients understand child support and how child support will affect their case specifically. If you or a loved one have questions about child support, give us a call today for a free consultation at the Sellers Law Firm: where clients become family.
CUSTODIAL PARENT V. NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT
Custodial or non-custodial: why does the designation matter? Generally, the designation determines which party will most likely pay child support for the benefit of the child or children involved in the case. Depending on your financial circumstances, this designation can play a vital role in your case.
A custodial parent is defined as “the parent with whom the child resides more than 50 percent of the time.” O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(a)(9). Alternatively, a non-custodial parent is defined as “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.” O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(a)(14).
In most cases, the custodial parent will be the party receiving child support due to the child being in their physical care a majority of the time. Although case law exists that states noncustodial parents may sometimes receive child support from the custodial parent, a noncustodial parent should always be wary of expecting the custodial parent to bear the burden of child support.
Regardless of whether you are deemed the custodial or noncustodial parent, you need an experienced family law attorney in your corner to help you navigate these child support issues. If you or a loved or a loved one have questions regarding parent designations or child support in general, give us a call today for a free consultation at the Sellers Law Firm: where clients become family.
Child support amounts will vary based on multiple factors. One set of factors that will cause these variances are what are known as deviations.
Specifically, Georgia law defines a deviation as “an increase or decrease from the presumptive amount of child support if the presumed order is rebutted by evidence and the required findings of fact are made by the court pursuant to subsection (i) of this Code section.” O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(a)(10). Under Georgia law, the court has wide discretion in determining what may be considered a deviation for the purposes of adjusting child support, but state law does delineate a list of specific deviations that may be considered in child support calculations: high income; low income; other health related insurance (dental and vision)*; life insurance; child and dependent care tax credit; travel expenses; alimony; mortgage; permanency plan or foster care plan; extraordinary expenses; parenting time; and nonspecific deviations (at the judge’s discretion).
*Medical insurance is considered in child support calculations, but it is not defined as a deviation as are the other factors listed in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i). “The amount that is, or will be, paid by a parent for health insurance for the child for whom support is being determined shall be an adjustment to the basic child support obligation and prorated between the parents based upon their respective incomes.” O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(h)(2)(A)(i).
Deviations are allowed under Georgia law and the same should be applied when the circumstances call for their inclusion.
To ensure deviations are appropriately considered, you need an experience family law attorney to help lead you in the right direction. If you or a loved one have questions about deviations or child support in general, give us a call today for a free consultation at the Sellers Law Firm: where clients become family.
CHILD SUPPORT RECOVERY OFFICE
Child support calculations come into play in multiple types of cases, from divorce and legitimation actions to custody and visitation modification actions. In all of these types of cases, the Georgia Division of Child Support Services (CSS) may ultimately play a part: whether by collecting child support payments and distributing the same or by filing actions in superior court to establish child support or seeking contempt orders for nonpayment of child support.
Child Support Services often file cases on behalf of custodial parents who have not established child support orders in other cases (such as a divorce or legitimation action). These cases are routinely filed by CSS against unrepresented parties, which often does not end well for the unrepresented party. Georgia law is clear, parents have an obligation to support their children, but that does not mean that the system should be used against unrepresented parties.
If you or a loved one find themselves dealing with a case involving CSS, you need someone in your corner. Give us a call today for a free consultation at the Sellers Law Firm: where clients become family.
CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATORS
At the end of the day, determining child support all comes down to the child support calculator: a mathematical formula and excel spreadsheet application that uses multiple variables (i.e., gross monthly income for each party, deviations, healthcare payments, and so forth) to calculate the monthly amount of child support that will be paid by the non-custodial parent (usually, see discussion above regarding custodial parent vs. non-custodial parent). This formula is created by statute and is promulgated by the Georgia Child Support Commission (see O.C.G.A. § 19-6-16(m)-(o)).
Although every case is different, and child support may vary considerably based on the facts and circumstances of every case, you can use the child support calculators provided by the Commission online to get an idea of what your child support obligation might be.
Child support can be a confusing topic but with the right guidance you can ensure that you are prepared for court by knowing the likely outcome of a potential child support obligation or receipt. If you or a loved one have questions about the child support calculator or child support in general, give us a call today for a free consultation at the Sellers Law Firm: where clients become family.