People often believe the court orders them to pay too much child support. However, the court doesn’t determine child support – Georgia’s statute O.C.G.A §19-6-15 determines how much you pay. Child support is based on a calculation of the parents’ combined income, the number of children you have, and the child’s needs, including health insurance, recurring health care costs not covered by insurance and work-related childcare costs.
Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations
Georgia’s Child Support guidelines statute contains a table of basic child support obligations. However, Georgia allows for certain deviations. A child support deviation is an amount that changes the presumptive amount of child support because it would be unfair to the parent or child to use the presumptive Child Support amount. Deviations can increase a parent’s child support obligation, but deviations can also decrease it. Georgia allows deviations for the high income of one or both parents, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, childcare tax credit, visitation travel expenses, alimony, mortgage, permanency plan, parenting time, extraordinary education expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, and special expenses for child-rearing.
Georgia also offers a free child support calculator where after entering all the relevant data, the Child Support Worksheet generates the basic child support obligations each parent would pay. The Child Support Worksheet also determines a pro-rata percentage that each parent should be responsible for, in the division of any child-related expenses not included in the Child Support Worksheet.
For example, if the parents’ combined gross income is $4,500, the amount they split is $853 for one child or $1,209 for two children. To obtain the percentage, divide your gross income by the combined gross income.
If the father makes $2,500 per month and the mother makes $2,000 per month for a total of $4,500, divide 2,500 by 4,500 for the father’s share of 55.6 percent of $853. The mother would pay 44.4 percent of $853. However, this is only the starting point. You must add in other cost requirements, including but not limited to health insurance premiums and work-related childcare costs.
If we were to stop at this point, the father’s share would be $474.24, and the mother’s share would be $378.73. If no deviation for visitation and / or custody exists, the non-custodial parent will pay the parent with primary custody. If a deviation exists, you must use the long-form worksheet that figures deviations.
If you add in $600 per month for health insurance premiums paid by the father, plus $6,000 for work-related childcare costs for the year, paid wholly by the father, even though Father is the noncustodial parent, mother would still owe the father $14.91 to cover the over payment of health insurance premiums and work-related childcare costs.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Another common complaint is that the mother spends child support on her bills. Those are also the child’s bills since the child lives in the house. Child support covers a percentage of the following:
- Food and clothing for the child.
- Toys, extracurricular activities, and hobbies.
- Utilities for the home the child lives in.
- Mortgage or rent for the home the child lives in.
- A portion of the vehicle expenses for the vehicles the child travels in, including repair, maintenance, fuel, and insurance.
- Uncovered medical expenses for the child.
- Work-related childcare expenses for the child.
When you add deviations, the child support amount changes. For example, if we add life insurance for the child and the mother pays the full amount of $100 per month, she may want the father to pay $50. Instead of relying on the father to give her $50 extra per month and risk non-payment of the insurance policy because the father is late or doesn’t pay, the mother can add it to the child support order.
In Figure 2, we added a $50 deviation for the father. That increased his child support obligation by $50. However, his child support amount is only $35 because he had a negative amount for the total amount due every month.
Visitation and Child Support
Sometimes, the custodial parent refuses to let the non-custodial parent exercise his or her visitation rights. As a result, the non-custodial parent may try to withhold child support if it is not taken directly from his or her check.
However, two wrongs do not make a right; withholding Child Support only harms the child. Child Support is for the Child, and as such, the non-custodial parent must still pay child support. However, the non-custodial parent may file a contempt action and request the court compel visitation if it is being wrongfully withheld.
Contact a Georgia Family Law Attorney
If you have been served or are planning to serve divorce papers, you don’t have to go through the complex process yourself. An experienced Georgia family law attorney will help protect your rights for all factors of a divorce, including division of assets, child support, visitation, and spousal support. Contact a Georgia family lawyer at The Platt Law Firm for a consultation.