How are Child Support Payments Calculated in Georgia?
Before 2007, calculations of child support in Georgia were solely based on the income of the parent who did not hold custody. Judges determined what percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income would go toward child support, and thus the calculation process was relatively straightforward. From 2007 on, however, Georgia switched to the Income Shares model of child support calculations. Now, many more factors are considered when calculating child support amounts. The aim of this change was to better consider the financial status of both parents and, most importantly, the welfare of the child.
Since child support payments can be adjusted by many different factors, it is smart to have a lawyer from Kessler & Solomiany, LLC involved in your child support calculation process. While you may be able to determine child support payments on your own, this method only provides the base level of payment. You can successfully increase the payment for your child, or lower your own monthly payment, by hiring an experienced family law lawyer from our firm. Call us today at (404) 688-8810 for a confidential initial consultation.
Determining Child Support Payment Amounts in Georgia
The Georgia legislative branch has created a worksheet to calculate child support payment amounts, and considers several factors in its calculations. There are two steps to this process:
Step One: Income Evaluation
Both parents combine their adjusted gross monthly income, which will determine the percentage that each parent contributes to a child’s financial support. For example, if one parent’s monthly income is $4,000 and the other’s is $6,000 with a total of $10,000, the first parent contributes 40% and the second contributes 60% per month. When determining total gross monthly income, all sources of income must be factored in. This includes salary from employers, any bonuses or commissions, self-employment income, rental property income, annuities income, capital gains income, severance income, disability payments, retirement payments, and income from unemployment and social security. Other factors that are used to determine payments include the cost of childcare, the child’s portion of health insurance premiums, as well as the cost of any social security benefits.
Step Two: The Basic Child Support Obligation (BSCO) Table
Georgia’s BSCO table establishes a base monthly amount of support obligation for the number of children that the two parents support. Once you calculate the combined adjusted income of both parents in step one, the table will show the minimum dollar amount of support required per child. The table states the total amount that must be contributed. You must then use the percentage calculated in step one to determine exactly how much each parent must pay.
Other Adjusting Factors
Georgia’s Basic Child Support Obligation Table only determines the basic child support obligation. There are other adjusting factors that will determine the definite contribution amount required by each parent, including the following:
- Adjustments from Income and Deductions: Any source of income is a factor in determining each parent’s adjusted gross monthly income. Some benefits related to work can factor into this figure. For example, a company car or gas card can lower everyday out-of-pocket expenses for one parent. Some deductions from this amount can include self-employment taxes. In addition, child support already being paid from a separate relationship may provide an income deduction, and so can children from another relationship who are living with you and not covered by a separate court order.
- Adjustments for the Amount of Parenting Time: Under the assumption that children will spend most of their time with, and under the primary care of, the custodial parent, that parent will have to shoulder most of the expenses that come with raising a child. Therefore there may need to be an increase in child support to adjust for the overall costs to the custodial parent. However, if parenting time is divided more equally, as in joint custody settlements, expenses may not need to be adjusted or may even need to be lowered.
- Adjusting Income for Hardships: Child support amounts can be decreased upon the request of a parent if they are facing an involuntary hardship. This is typically considered a short-term condition. Involuntary hardships include being fired, laid off, or unable to find work (with evidence of an attempt to do so). This provision does not apply in cases where the parent has voluntarily left a job or refused to find employment.
While the many factors that contribute to adjusting child support payments can be complex, the skilled attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC know how to help their Atlanta clients find the best and fairest solution for their family’s needs. Our child support attorneys will give you honest legal advice and guidance, and will be able to help you navigate the child support calculation process and fully prepare you for any upcoming payments. Call us today at (404) 688-8810 for a confidential initial case evaluation.