Do we have to do child support? This is a question I hear pretty frequently. Often parents feel like they can take care of business without being obligated by the court to pay a certain amount each month. The bottom line answer is yes, one parent will be required to pay child support to the other parent, the one with whom the children live with a majority of the time, also known as the Primary Physical Custodian. If you’re into research and want to see for yourself, check out the GA Code here.
How much, you may wonder? Well the State of Georgia has decided that the amount is determined – basically - by calculating both parents Gross Monthly Income (that’s before taxes or other deductions) adjusted by health insurance and work-related child care costs. There may be other factors that adjust the final number further such as high or low Income, other children from another relationship, alimony, mortgage, or travel for visitation.
Then there’s the Parenting Time Deviation. This comes up when the children spend “extended” or “equal” time with parents. It is a subjective calculation and depends largely on the parents’ income, their ability to co-parent well, and ability to agree on a number that makes sense for them. This deviation, as all the others, can be negotiated privately by the parties who arrive at a number that makes sense for their unique situation. Keep in mind though, that all deviations are subject to the court’s approval.
I encourage folks to get familiar with the Child Support Worksheet (found here) before negotiating with each other. You may be surprised as to what worksheet calculates for you. Or the presumptive amount may be around what you thought it would be. Either way, and you may want to be familiar with any adjustments or deviations that may fit into your situation. These can help you get the final number to a place that makes sense for everyone. Having some understanding of how the whole thing works makes the discussions around it go all the much better.
For some more easy to read information, here’s a good FAQ.