Deciding Child Support Amounts In Georgia
Georgia law mandates that all noncustodial parents contribute some amount to the upkeep and maintenance of their minor children as long as they retain parental rights. For some time, the amount was left up in the air or able to be determined by the court with only a perfunctory analysis, but in 2007, changes were made to the support guidelines which tightened the requirements and streamlined the process. If you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, knowing there is a relatively simple process to determine support obligations can be helpful.
2007 Changes To Child Support Law
Since 2007, child support in Georgia divorces is usually calculated using the Basic Child Support Obligation Table, at least to begin with. This is not a hard and fast set of rules, but it is a guideline where most divorce cases are supposed to begin child support amount discussion. Unlike the previously utilized formula, the BCSO framework takes both parents’ income into account, and it also sets out specifics regarding certain situations which would often come up – for example, the new law holds that while a Georgia parent may not be forced to contribute toward college expenses, they have the option of doing so.
There are multiple factors that in theory go into a determination of support amounts, such as current and future earning potential of both parents, the needs of the children, the parents’ custody arrangement, and any extra expenses like daycare or extracurricular activities. However, a court must find reason to deviate from the guidelines too far. The general aim in determining support amounts is for the child or children of the marriage to enjoy a standard of living as close to the one they enjoyed during the marriage as possible.
As in many other states, courts do still have discretion as to whether or not to deviate from the stated guidelines in deciding upon a support amount during divorce proceedings. The most common reasons to do this are when a child has unusual expenses – for example, medical expenses to manage a disability – or when the noncustodial parent has an unusually high income compared to the custodial parent. Sometimes, insurance costs will also be a reason – if one parent can provide health insurance or life insurance for the child, the court or the jury may deviate from the guidelines as a response to this.
If a support amount is decided upon and one parent is unhappy with the determination, it is possible to seek modification if there has been a substantial change in one parent’s income, or if some unusual occurrence comes to pass such as a child becoming disabled. The court must okay any change in support payments, however, unlike in other states; parents may not simply agree between themselves and expect such an accord to have weight unless entered into the court record. Going by the book in matters of child support is still generally a good idea.
Call A Dedicated Child Support Lawyer
For most parents, their children are everything, and to ensure they are taken care of, contacting a knowledgeable child support attorney is a good first step. The Atlanta divorce attorneys at Buckhead Family Law work hard to give you peace of mind, and keep you informed every step of the way. If you have questions or concerns about your divorce case and your child support obligation, call us today to set up an appointment.