This article is going to go over the ins and outs of the child support laws Georgia follows.
If you’re facing a divorce in Georgia with children, you’re probably wondering who pays child support, how child support is calculated, and how child support works.
So, keep reading to find out what child support laws Georgia apply to you.
Custody can be devastating. It’s heartbreaking when parents lose custody of their children. Spouses end up having to pay agonizing amounts of financial support.
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The first thing we’re going to cover is how child support works when you file for divorce with children in Georgia.
Then, we will cover how to calculate child support in Georgia and how much either parent will pay the other one.
How child support works in Georgia is based on the Georgia Child Support Guidelines. These consider the income of both parents.
The current Georgia Child Support Guidelines take into account the total gross income of both parents when calculating child support in Georgia.
This total gross income includes income from ALL sources before any tax deductions are made.
Your gross income when calculating child support in Georgia includes:
When the total income for both parents is entered into the Georgia child support calculator, along with the number of children that need child support, the amount of child support populates in the worksheet.
The amount of child support that’s populated tells the judge how much it should cost to care for the child – not how much you owe.
Child support covers food, clothing, and shelter. Child support does not cover extracurricular activities, uninsured medical expenses, and educational expenses.
When your spouse asks you to help pay for your child’s football uniform and school supplies, that is still your responsibility.
Since child support in Georgia only covers food, clothing, and shelter, anything outside of that needs to come out of pocket to help take care of your child.
Child support can be modified every two years. But once you file a motion to modify child support in Georgia, you cannot file for modification again for another two years. Modifications allow you to reduce your child support payments based on your, or your ex’s, income.
With the child support laws in Georgia, if you are paying child support and your income drops, or your ex’s income increased, you can file a petition to modify child support.
When you request child support modification, this will allow you to decrease the amount of child support that you are paying to your ex.
Let’s say there is a change in income for either parent. This change in income is a reason to modify child support payments, according to the divorce laws in Georgia.
If there is a 10% of larger change in income then the divorce courts will make a child support adjustment.
For example, if Jim was making $10,000 per month and now is making $11,000 per month, the judge will be in favor of changing child support payments to increase Jim’s contributions.
On the other hand, if Jim was making $10,000 per month and is now making $9,000 per month, he can request child support modification to lower his payments.
While child support cannot take your whole paycheck, they can take up to 65% of your paycheck if you have missed child support payments that you need to catch up on. Child support will be taken out of your paycheck via wage garnishment.
For normal child support money, the courts can only take up to 25% of your net income (after taxes).
But if you have been missing child support payments, the child support laws in Georgia allows the courts can order your wages to be garnished.
When this happens, you can have up to 65% of your net income garnished from your wages.
To garnish your wages, the custodial parent obtains authorization from the court in a document usually called a writ of execution.
Under this authorization, per Georgia’s child support laws, the custodial parent directs the sheriff to seize a portion of your wages.
The sheriff, in turn, notifies you and your employer.
Child support can take your stimulus check if you are behind on child support payments.
These payments are sent directly to the spouse who is waiting on their child support payments.
But the receiving spouse must have submitted Form 8379.
This form takes the refund money that the paying spouse would have gotten for the child and sends it to the parent who is owed money for child support.
If it’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you’re out of luck.
SSI is considered a welfare benefit—rather than an earned Social Security benefit like retirement, disability, or survivor benefits.
These are benefits the individuals pay into over their lifetimes—the federal government does not allow this income to be garnished for child support payments.
If your children are still minors, you can apply for child support services offered by the state.
The typical application fee is $25. This service will walk you through the legal process and is the “inexpensive route” to getting those child support funds, says Turetsky.
If your children are fully grown, you will need to hire a Georgia family law attorney to help you go through the process.
That is unless you applied for child support services when your children were minors, in which case you may be able to use the services.
Child support can take your employment. If you have to pay child support and you get unemployment, the state will deduct your child support from your unemployment. Per the child support laws, when you lose your job, you still owe child support.
Child support can take your inheritance if you owe back child support payments. The state can step in and claim your inheritance for owed child support, whether it’s cash or property.
There is a specific formula used for calculating child support in Georgia.
Let’s go over the 5 steps to calculating Georgia child support.
Add up all incomes for each spouse. Your gross income when calculating child support in Georgia includes:
Take the gross income and subtract any other child support payments that you are already making. This is your adjusted gross income.
If you don’t have any other child support payments, then you just use your gross income.
And if you’re getting a divorce as a stay at home mom without income, you would put “$0.00” in for your income.
The courts will also take into account how much one spouse is paying for alimony in Georgia.
Take the adjusted gross income for each parent and add them together to get the total adjusted gross income.
If Jim’s adjusted gross income is $5,000 and Jane’s is $6,000, then the total adjusted gross income is $11,000.
Now, to find the percentage of income for child support, divide each parent’s adjusted gross income by the total gross income.
Using the Basic Child Support Obligation Table, you can find what the child support obligation of your children is.
If Jim and Jane have one child and their total adjusted gross income is $11,000, then $1,351 how much they owe in child support in Georgia.
This is where the math gets fun (and where I’ll lose most of you).
But, it’s quite easy, actually.
In Step 3, we calculated the percentage of the Total Gross Income that each parent had. This is where we are using those percentages.
We are going to multiply those percentages by the child support obligation to see which how much is owed in child support.
If Jim has primary physical custody of the child, then Jane has to pay him $736.91.
But if Jane has primary physical custody of the child, then Jim has to pay her $614.09.
When it comes to how much is child support in Georgia, it’s hard to nail it down without lots of math.
But, on average, child support in Georgia for a non-custodial parent is about 12% of their gross income for child support.
While how much child support is in Georgia depends heavily on gross incomes of each individual parent with custody factored in, the comes out to be roughly 10% – 15% of a parent’s adjusted gross income.
If one parent stops making child support payments, then the courts can garnish their wages for up to 65% of their income until the debt is paid off in full.
For example, if the total gross income for both parents is $10,000 per month, the presumptive support amount is $1,259 per month for one child.
Let’s say that the father is the non-custodial parent and his income is $6,000 per month, and the mother is the custodial parent and her income is $4,000 per month.
In this case, the father is obligated to pay 60% of the $1,259 per month to the mother.
How much child support that you get depends on the number of children involved and how much each parent’s adjusted gross income is.
If you are the custodial parent, you can expect to get roughly 10%-15% of your ex’s gross income for child support.
According to the Census of Bureau Reports in 2010, the average child support payment is $430 per month.
Adjusted for inflation, the average child support payment in 2020 is $512.
Child support pays for a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Child support can also pay for heat, electricity, cleaning supplies, travel costs, car maintenance, and other expenses needed to properly care for the child.
Child support only covers a child’s basic needs.
Child support does not cover things like extracurricular activities, educational expenses, or uninsured medical expenses.
(Think, soccer uniforms, school supplies, and doctor co-pays.)
To calculate child support, Georgia uses very specific child support guidelines based on an “Income Shares Model.”
This model estimates the total amount that parents would spend on a child in an intact family unit, and then splits this amount proportionately according to the parents’ incomes.
Parents can access the current child support guidelines for Georgia and a child support calculator through the Georgia Child Support Commission.
Make sure that you keep track of what money you spend on your child when they visit you.
No, this does not make you a bad parent.
I understand that you may feel guilty about tracking what you spend on your own child.
What’s important here is that you are tracking whether or not your ex is misusing your child support payments.
(More fun now, eh?)
If your spouse is misusing child support payments, then documenting this is the only way that you can fight it according to the child support laws Georgia has.
Keep a tab on what your spouse sends with your kids when they come to visit you.
If you are constantly finding yourself spending tons of money on basic needs like clothes and toiletries, this could be a sign that your ex is spending the child support money on other items.
If they are, you have the ability to file for a motion of contempt.
If your ex, who does not pay child support or misuses child support in Georgia, has a motion of contempt against them, then the courts will fine them or hold them in jail until they ‘agree’ to not misuse the money again.
If they agree to not misuse the money again and they do, then they will receive increased fines and increased jail time the subsequent times that they misuse child support.
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