Child Support

Child Support in Georgia

Georgia law mandates that the issue of child support must be determined before the divorce of parents with minor children can be finalized. A determination must be made as to who will be paying child support and how much that support will be. The determination of primary physical custody is the first step in this decision. (See Child Custody to learn more about primary physical custody)

After the custody decision has been made, the process then moves to the determination of the amount of support that will be paid monthly. Georgia uses an Income Shares Model to determine this amount. This model assumes that both parents are equally responsible for the financial needs of their children. However, this does not mean that they must each pay half of the child support amount that is deemed necessary and appropriate by the state. Child support using this model is calculated using a means-based gradient.

For example: 

  • Mother is determined to be the Primary Physical Custodian of the 2 children
  • The state guidelines call for $1,500/month in child support 
  • Mom earns $3,000/month, Dad earns $5,000/month
  • Dad earns 62.5% of the total earnings of both parents ($5,000/$8,000 = 62.5%)
  • Dad would therefore pay 62.5% of the state mandated $1,500/month.
  • Dad’s monthly total would be $937.50 

*Numbers are estimates and used for the purpose of an example only and will vary by case. 

Many parents who have to pay/receive child support often misunderstand its purpose. Child support is intended to provide for the necessities of daily living for the child. As any parent knows, raising children is not a cheap responsibility. Frequently, the child support ordered by law does not come close to paying for all of the additional expenses present in raising a child (school expenses, extracurricular activities, medical expenses, etc.).

It is important to spell out financial responsibility for these expenses in a settlement agreement, otherwise, it is presumed that they are included in the child support amount and the custodial parent will have no right to seek them from the non-custodial parent. You need an experienced attorney to make sure issues like these are covered in your divorce.

In Georgia, failure to pay child support can result in sanctions by a court in the form of contempt. Additional penalties can include attorney fees and in some cases incarceration.

If you have questions about child support in Georgia contact us to arrange for a free consultation.