In the State of Georgia, there is a specific formula for determining the amount of child support a noncustodial parent will be obligated to pay. Parties often are very apprehensive about the determination of child support. However, Georgia’s formula makes this issue one of the more straightforward aspects of any custodial case. The legislature has created an excel spreadsheet, known as a child support worksheet, that specifically calculates the amount of child support based on the parties’ gross incomes, and some other finite numbers affecting the minor children. Georgia’s child support guidelines consider both parties’ gross incomes in determining an initial amount of child support to be pro-rated between the parents for the benefit of the minor children.
For example, if the mother earns $5,000.00 per month and the father earns $7,500.00 per month, then the presumptive amount of child support for the parties’ two children would be $2,035.00 per month. This amount would be pro-rated between the parties based upon their respective incomes. Since the father earns 60% of the parties’ total monthly income, he would pay 60% of $2,035.00 (or $1,221.00) to the mother, if she has custody of both children. However, if the father has custody of both children, then the mother would pay child support to him in the amount of $814.00 (or 40% of $2,035.00) since she earns 40% of the parties’ total monthly income.
The guidelines also apportion, between the parents, certain expenses such as health insurance, non-covered medical expenses, and work-related childcare costs. In addition, the guidelines allow for deviations to the presumptive amount of child support to be awarded, based upon the unique facts in each case. Some specific types of deviations from the presumptive child support award that the court may consider in adjusting child support are as follows:
- High income: Parents are considered to earn high income, if their combined gross income exceeds $30,000 per month;
- Low income: A parent is considered to earn a low income if he/she earns at, or less than, $1,850 per month;
- Other health-related insurance: This would include vision or dental insurance being provided by one of the parents;
- Life insurance: If one or both of the parents have life insurance for the benefit of the children, then this cost can be considered;
- Child and dependent care tax credit: If one parent is entitled to such a tax credit, then this tax savings can be considered or pro-rated between the parties;
- Travel expenses: If there is a substantial cost involved in exercising visitation, then actual expenses incurred by the noncustodial parent may be considered;
- Alimony: Actual payments of alimony are not deducted from gross income but may be considered as a deviation from the presumptive child support award;
- Mortgage: If the noncustodial parent is paying for a house/apartment for the custodial parent and children, then this cost may be considered as a deviation from the presumptive child support award;
- Extraordinary expenses: Such expenses are in excess of the average amounts estimated in the Child Support Obligation Table and are highly variable among families, but would include educational expenses, medical expenses, summer camps, and other activities intended to enhance the athletic, social or cultural development of the children; and
- Parenting time: The presumptive child support award is based on expenditures for children in an intact household but this award can be modified due to extended parenting time or when the children live with both parents equally.
These deviations are not required to be applied in each case, but can be considered by the parties or the court in arriving at a child support figure. Additionally, the guidelines include a “non-specific deviation.” This provision permits a deviation from the presumptive award of child support for reasons not previously listed but which are in the best interests of the minor children.
Although the issue of child support should be straightforward, it is undoubtedly a crucial element in any custody case. It is important to make sure that the numbers used in the child support worksheet are accurate, so that the correct amount of child support is calculated to protect the interests of the minor children. Kupferman & Golden, Attorneys at Law, is very familiar with the intricacies of the child work guidelines and can help you ensure that the proper amount of child support is awarded based on the unique factors in your case.
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