Divorce is difficult on children—there’s no way around it. There are many things you can do to make the transition as easy as possible, but the simple fact is that life will not be the same for them after the divorce. One thing you can do to lessen the impact is to make sure their lifestyle will change as little as possible by getting the child support to which they are entitled. In Georgia, child support is calculated according to a standard formula, but that does not mean that it’s always fair. I represent divorcing parents to help them get the support they need to care for their children.
It All Comes Down to Deviations From the Formula
To start the child support process, both parents must fill out an online worksheet that asks for their monthly gross income, including all sources of income. Based on each parent’s resources, the program will come up with a presumptive child support amount. Very rarely is this the final child support amount, however, because the judge will also consider a set of mandatory deviations, and each party can argue for additional, non-mandatory deviations.
If one of the following mandatory deviations applies to your case, the court will be required to factor it in:
- Work-related child care expense. If one parent is paying for child care so that they can work, the other parent’s support obligation will be raised accordingly.
- Health insurance premium. Typically, one parent pays the insurance premium for child dependents. The parent who is not paying the insurance premium could be expected to pay more in child support.
There are over a dozen non-mandatory or discretionary deviations that can be presented to the court by either party. The most common discretionary deviation is parenting time. At the judge’s discretion, the non-custodial parent’s child support could be altered from the presumptive amount based on how much time they spend with the child or children. For example, a non-custodial parent who has the children 50 percent of the time could be required to pay less in child support.
Other factors the parties and their attorneys can bring to a judge’s attention include:
- Income. If the combined income of the parents exceeds Georgia’s child support worksheet, the judge can deviate from the schedule to come up with a fair amount. Likewise, parents who earn below the minimum income can have their support payments reduced.
- Travel. If custody and visitation obligations require long-distance travel, the cost of travel can be factored into child support.
- Extraordinary expenses. Children with medical conditions, special needs, private school tuition, or other unusual expenses will require a custom child support plan.
- Camps and extracurricular activities. A child who attends a pricey summer camp or who is a competitive athlete or skilled musician incurs more expenses than what is factored into the child support worksheet. Costs for camps, travel sports teams, private lessons, and other expenses can be a deviation from the child support schedule
- Mortgage. If the non-custodial parent pays the mortgage for the house where the custodial parent and the children live, that parent could receive a downward deviation in child support.
- Alimony. While alimony cannot be subtracted from the paying party’s gross income, it can be considered when determining child support. In other words, if the non-custodial parent is paying alimony to the custodial parent, their child support obligation could be reduced.
There are other deviations that can be considered, depending on your specific situation.
Child Support Is Complicated—Let Me Make it Easy for You
Clearly, determining how much child support will be paid goes far beyond the online worksheet. As your attorney, I will make sure that all potential deviations from the presumptive child support amount are considered so that the child support payment is fair. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, I can help you—and more importantly, your children—get a fair deal. Contact my office to learn more.