How Do Courts Decide On Child Support?

Another consideration of any court when deciding child custody issues is an appropriate award for child support.  How do the courts decide this? 

Child Support calculations are outlined in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15 and can be awarded either on a temporary basis or a permanent basis.  Furthermore, absent an appropriate award of child support, a non-custodial parent can be liable to third parties for necessaries furnished to children in the event the non-custodial parent is not paying support.  The creation of a child support offers protection against third party claims against the non-custodial parent for furnishing of necessaries.

Georgia’s interpretation of child support is based upon the creation of presumptive child support that is based upon the total adjusted income of each parent.  Adjusted income is essentially your gross income less one-half of self-employment taxes, any pre-existing order for current support paid by the parent for another child not at issue in the case and any theoretical child support for other qualified children.  Both parents adjusted income will then be added together.    

The adjusted gross income will then fall into a table found in O.C.G.A. 19-6-15(o) and a basic child support obligation is created which considers the total adjusted gross income and the number of children for whom child support is being determined.

The court will then calculate the pro rata share of the basic child support obligation for the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent by dividing the total adjusted income into each parent’s adjusted income to arrive at each parent’s pro rata percentage of the basic child support obligation. 

The basic child support then considers any health insurance and work related child care costs.  Work related expenses pertain to expenses for care that are due to employment of either parent.  Both parents pay their pro rata share of health insurance and work related costs as well.  The result of these considerations creates the presumptive amount of child support.

Ultimately, child support is determined by taking the pro rata share of each parent’s basic child support obligation and adding it to their pro rata share of health insurance and work related costs.  This is the amount owed by each parent for child support.  Practically, the amount specified under the non-custodial parent’s column is paid to the custodial parent.  It is assumed the amount specified under the custodial parent column is paid by the custodial parent to themselves for care and support of the child.

The tricky part of determining child support is whether any deviations are warranted.  A court has the power to reduce the presumptive child support amount based upon twelve different grounds of deviation found in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i).  It is not required for a court to award any deviation, but the court has the power to determine appropriate deviations if it wants to.  The award of deviations is on a case by case basis and there is no way to determine which deviations will be awarded.  However, courts often award parenting time deviations. 

After consideration of deviations, you will have a final child support award that the non-custodial parent will pay to the custodial parent.  There are a host of other issues to consider when talking about child support.  To learn more, contact Kenny Leigh & Associates for a consultation. 

If you want to learn more about how courts approach divorces, come back next week for another blog entry. 

Call today to speak to Kenny Leigh & Associates about your rights.  Men Only, Family Law Only.

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