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How does Georgia calculate child support payments?

Financial issues are one of the primary causes of divorce. If a marriage does ultimately end in divorce, it does not necessarily mean that spouses will stop arguing about money.

Child support is one of the more contested issues that spouses need to resolve during divorce proceedings. For many years, Georgia judges would typically award about 20 percent of the non-custodial spouse's income as support.

That process changed in 2007 when Georgia began to consider a number of factors beyond simply the non-custodial spouse's income. This approach is commonly referred to as an "income shares model." This approach seeks to ensure that the child receives the same proportional income from both parents that they would have received if their parents had remained married.

Which types of income and expenses are considered?

An income sharing approach considers both spouses' salaries, investment income, bonuses, severance income and Social Security benefits, among other types of income.

The court will also factor in the costs of raising your children, including:

  • Day care and child rearing expenses
  • Special education expenses
  • Health care needs
  • Extracurricular activities
  • General cost-of-living expenses

Child support may deviate from the initial calculation

The incomes of both spouses and the estimated cost of raising the child are entered into Georgia's child support calculator. This calculator will produce an estimated amount of child support that a parent may need to pay.

It is important to note that the numbers produced by the calculator are merely guidelines. A judge may increase or decrease the amount of benefits a spouse receives based on the specific circumstances of the case. Factors that may cause a deviation from the initial child support calculation include:

  • Health and life insurance
  • Travel expenses
  • Alimony payments
  • Mortgage payments
  • Extraordinary expenses
  • Parenting time

Is the court ruling final?

After taking all of these factors into account, the court will reach a conclusion and determine how much you may have to pay in child support. You can request a modification to the child support order if there is a significant change in a spouse's circumstances.

It is important to note that the modification can be a time-consuming process and may last up to six months. While a modification may reduce the amount of child support a spouse pays, it may also increase the amount owed going forward.

Determining how much a spouse owes in child support is rarely a black-and-white issue. It can take the hand of a skilled attorney to help you secure a more favorable outcome if you are facing looming child support payments.

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