At first glance, it might not seem like there is much to talk about when it comes to determining child support. Both parents are legally required to support their kids financially, and in a divorce the court turns to the Georgia Child Support Guidelines, plugs in figures like each parent’s income, the number of children to be supported, health insurance costs and related expenses, and comes up with a monthly amount of support one parent has to pay the other. And that’s all there is to it. Or is it?
Whether you are the parent who will be paying or receiving support on behalf of your children, you want your children to be fairly and fully supported. You and your attorney can play a critical role in making sure the court arrives at a proper amount by making sure incomes are reported accurately and arguing for or against a deviation from the guidelines amount as appropriate. The family law attorneys at The Gleklen Law Firm can give you the advice, guidance and representation you need to ensure a fair result for you and your kids.
Learn more below about how Georgia courts determine child support in a divorce or child custody dispute, and call The Gleklen Law Firm for answers to your questions or immediate assistance regarding child support and other matters in your divorce.
How the Georgia Child Support Guidelines Work
The child support guidelines found in Georgia law serve as the starting point for figuring out who pays child support to whom and how much. The amount calculated using the guidelines is presumed to be the proper amount.
The guidelines use a statutory formula that takes into account each parent’s income, the number of children, health insurance costs, extraordinary medical expenses and other factors to arrive at a monthly amount of support the noncustodial parent will owe to the custodial parent. Calculating each parent’s income can be a daunting task. The guidelines consider income from every possible source, including not just salary, wages and fringe benefits but also income from sales commissions or bonuses, interest on investments, dividends, capital gains, and more. If a parent is unemployed, the court has to decide a proper amount of income to attribute to them. Parents who are business owners or are self-employed might have many different ways they can report their income, which the other parent might deem inappropriately high or low.
Dealing with complicated financial asset pictures in divorce is one of our specialties at The Gleklen Law Firm. We are intimately familiar with the law and highly experienced in high-asset divorce cases. We work closely with financial experts as needed to make sure your income and that of your spouse are reported accurately so the guideline amount will be accurate as well. If you think your spouse is hiding assets or underreporting income at your children’s expense, we’ll work to bring that information to the court’s attention. We’ll also help you through the process of reporting your own income, no matter how complicated your personal financial picture might be.
Judges Can Deviate From the Guidelines
While the guidelines amount is presumed to be correct, there are many factors that can lead the court to decide that a different amount – higher or lower – is more appropriate and in the children’s best interests. Some of these factors can include:
- When the combined income of the parents is high ($30,000 a month or more)
- When the non-custodial parent’s income is low ($1,850 a month or less)
- The costs of health insurance
- The cost or value of a parent’s life insurance listing the child as a beneficiary
- Which parent is taking child care tax credits
- Transportation costs related to child custody
- Whether one parent is paying alimony to the other
- Mortgage payments
- A child’s extraordinary educational or medical expenses
- The amount of custodial parenting time allotted to each parent
Our experienced child support lawyers can prepare the evidence and legal arguments surrounding any relevant factors if you or the other parent are seeking a deviation from the guidelines amount. Also, our skilled mediators and collaborative law attorneys can work with you and your co-parent to come up with an amount of your own that the two of you believe will be fair and sufficient to meet the children’s needs, subject to court approval. Not every issue in your divorce has to be litigated or fought over, and we can help you get a negotiated result that meets your needs as well as your children’s.
Call The Gleklen Law Firm for Advice and Representation Regarding Georgia Child Support Matters
For help determining child support in a Georgia divorce or child custody case, call The Gleklen Law Firm at 678-236-0444, or contact us online to schedule a consultation.