Georgia Child Support Guidelines: A Detailed Overview (2024)

Georgia child support guidelines

Whether considering divorce, establishing paternity, engaging in a child custody battle, or seeking modification to an existing order, child support laws impact your case.

Many believe that obtaining custody means they automatically receive support. This is not always true. It is the child’s best interests, not money, that determines custody.

The financial standing of both parents, in combination with custody and visitation arrangements, determines who pays support and in what amount. The Georgia child support guidelines set forth child support calculations and considerations.

We will share the guidelines, how calculations are made, and how to file so you obtain a proper child support determination.

Georgia Child Support Guidelines

A child support obligation is determined using the guidelines of Georgia Code § 19-6-15. Factors the court reviews to determine who is the payor and payee and the amount of monthly child support include the following:

  • Adjusted income: each parent’s monthly income minus one-half of any self-employment taxes, if applicable
  • Basic child support according to the child support obligation table
  • Child support orders for other qualifying children
  • Combined adjusted income: the amount of each parent’s adjusted income when added together
  • Custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lives more than 50% of the time
  • Deviation is an increase or decrease from the presumptive child support amount
  • Gross income is all income necessary for calculating child support
  • Health insurance is any health or medical policy
  • A noncustodial parent is one with whom the child resides with less than 50% of the time
  • A nonparent custodian is any person who has legal custody of the child or a legal right to seek a child support order
  • Uninsured health care expenses

Consideration for work-related childcare costs may also be part of a calculation.

What Is a Qualifying Child?

Any child residing in the parent’s home but not subject to the case at bar is a qualifying child. This does not include stepchildren or other minors living in the house the parent has no obligation to support.

A theoretical child support order allows the court to make allowances for a parent’s support of a qualifying child, even though no court order for support exists.

Child Support Obligation Table

The child support obligation table provides the base amount of child support each parent must pay. The chart uses the combined adjusted income amount of the parents to determine support obligations for one to six children.

The number of children applies only to those under the current case; it excludes other children.

Deviating From the Guidelines

The Georgia child support guidelines are a starting point. The court may find increasing or decreasing a child support obligation appropriate.

Qualifying factors include a high or low income, life insurance, other health-related insurance, child and dependent care tax credit, alimony, mortgage, travel expenses, and parenting time. If the child receives Title II benefits from the federal Social Security Act, this is considered in determining support.

A deviation may occur if evidence and findings of fact rebut the presumed amount. A parenting time deviation may be appropriate for a noncustodial parent’s court-ordered visitation.

Calculating Child Support

After determining the monthly gross income of both parents and then making proper deductions to the income for preexisting orders, one-half of self-employment taxes, and theoretical child support, the amount of each parent’s adjusted income is added together.

The court utilizes the child support obligation table, selecting the amount closest to the combined adjusted income. Dividing the combined adjusted income into each parent’s individual adjusted income results in a pro-rata percentage for each parent’s child support obligation. Any additional expenses, such as childcare costs and uninsured health care, are calculated using the same pro-rata percentages.

Adding each parent’s pro rata amount of all obligations together determines the total amount of support. At this point, any deviations are added to or subtracted from the parent’s obligations to reach a final amount.

Child Support Modifications

Georgia child support law allows parents to request child support modifications once every 24 months. Either parent may file for a modification to increase or decrease child support.

Parents can request an increase if the custodial parent can prove a non-custodial parent’s substantial income increase. Non-custodial parents can request a decrease if they can prove chronic financial hardship. This includes becoming disabled and unable to work or a job loss beyond their control.

If you experience financial hardship impacting your ability to meet your child support obligation in less than the two-year review period, consult a child support lawyer about steps to alleviate the risk of criminal charges for failure to pay.

Child Support Enforcement

Enforcement action begins when a parent is habitually delinquent or refusing to make payments.

A misdemeanor charge may be issued when child support is over 30 days past due. The court may order jail time, fines, payment of overdue support, and penalties.

Parents moving out of state to avoid paying support or guilty of failure to pay third offense may be charged with a felony. Penalties include state incarceration of one to three years, fines, and payment of all past-due support.

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DDPA) of 1998 makes nonpayment of child support a federal felony. The criteria are owing over $10,000 or being delinquent for over two years.

The penalties include incarceration of up to two years, probation, fines, and bringing the account current. The federal charges are in addition to any state criminal charges.

How to Apply for Child Support

When you apply for child support, each parent must fill out a child support worksheet. This information is necessary for the court to determine the monthly child support obligation. The court requires the worksheet even if you and the other parent have agreed on a child support amount.

The worksheet is challenging. Incorrect answers can impact your case and child support amount.

We recommend contacting child support lawyer Sarah Blake in Evans, GA, for assistance. She can review your worksheet before submission and present your child support case in court.

Ensure a Positive Outcome

Sarah Blake launched Blake and Detchemendy Law Firm in 2016 to provide superior legal services with a heavy focus on family law. Because of the numerous factors impacting child support obligations, having a lawyer knowledgeable about Georgia child support guidelines provides you with the best possible outcome. Contact us today at (706) 724-7514 to schedule a consultation.