One of the most common questions that divorcing parents ask is: How much will the child support be? How is child support calculated? In Georgia, child support follows the “Income Shares Model,” a type of computation that factors in both parents’ incomes, not just the non-custodial parent’s.
Here is an overview of the process to determine the child support amount in Georgia. You can follow along using the child support calculator called the Child Support Worksheet from the GA Child Support Commission.
Get the gross monthly income of each parent, then adjust (reduce) it according to the prescribed adjustments in the calculator’s Schedule B. For example, if either parent already has a preexisting child support obligation, their income (for the sake of this calculation) will be reduced by the amount of support they’re paying.
Combine both parents’ adjusted incomes, then calculate what percentage they contribute to the total. For example, if Parent A’s adjusted income is $6,000 and Parent B’s is $4,000, the total is $10,000, in which Parent A contributes 60 percent and Parent B contributes 40 percent.
Open up the latest Georgia Child Support Obligation table and find the amount that matches the Combined Adjusted Income and the number of children for whom support is calculated. Take this table amount and compute the percentage of it assigned to the non-custodial parent (the payor), using their percentage contribution calculated in Step 2. This is called pro rata calculation.
For example, continuing our illustration from Step 2, we have the parents’ combined income of $10,000. Let’s say these parents have two children to compute for. According to the child support table, their base support amount is $1,749 monthly. Now let’s say Parent A is the non-custodial parent. Since Parent A contributes 60 percent of the combined income, their basic support amount would be 60 percent of $1,749, which is $1,049.40.
Note that this amount is the basic child support amount, not the final child support amount. It will be adjusted further in the next step.
Georgia’s support calculator accounts for certain Health Insurance premiums for children as well as Work-Related Child Care costs. Sum up these costs and divide it between the parents using their pro rata percentage from the previous steps. The paying parent’s prorated share will then be added to their basic support amount from Step 4. The resulting amount will be their “Presumptive Amount of Child Support.”
Continuing our example, let’s say Parent A has the basic support amount of $1,049.40. Both parents then determine that they have additional costs of $500 for childcare and insurance, of which 60 percent is the pro rata share of Parent A. That means 60 percent of $500 – or $300 – will be added to the $1,049.40 basic support amount. Parent A’s presumptive child support obligation is $1,349.40.
The presumptive child support amount becomes the final child support obligation only if there are no more adjustments to be made. In some cases, the court does find that the final support amount should be different (or deviate) from the presumptive amount due to special circumstances in the family.
For instance, the judge may decide to deviate if the parents’ incomes are extremely high or extremely low, or if there are extraordinary expenses such as for a child with special needs.
After all the appropriate adjustments, the judge will enter the resulting amount into the Final Child Support Order.
If you are in Georgia and have questions on how child support may impact your divorce settlement, or if you need to modify an existing child support order, talk to Attorney Sharon Jackson. With over two decades of experience in family law, Attorney Jackson is deeply familiar with Georgia child support determination and the complexities that come with it. She can help you navigate the law and protect your rights in this complicated process. Schedule your consultation with Attorney Sharon Jackson. Call (678) 909-4100 today.