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What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Child Support?

In Georgia, some people still are under the mistake and belief that child support is calculated based on gross income, because that was the law in Georgia for years and years. Basically there were guidelines and you took a percentage of a non-custodial parent’s gross income, for example for one child, the range that the court applied was from 17 to 23 per cent of the payer’s gross.

The problem with that was it really cost payers to really be paying too much, it turned out to be a very punitive type of calculation. That’s one reason why the legislature changed it. The legislature here changed to the income shares model in 2007 and that does seem to be a fair representation of what child support should be calculated as, but because we had the gross income percentage for so long, there are still people that are under impression that that’s still the law in Georgia.

How did Child Support Work Before 2007?

That’s a gross income, it was a gross income model and you would just take a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. If that parent, let’s say, made $100,000 a year, then about 20 per cent of that person’s gross income would go to child support. That was just kind of a lopsided situation and a lot of the father’s right groups complained about it and honestly it was kind of punitive.

Georgia switched to the model that is used by many other states and that is the income shares model. There are still some problems with it but it does seem to be really a more evenhanded type of calculation than the simple gross income method.

What is the Difference Between Child Support and Spousal Support or Alimony?

Child support is for the support of the child and alimony is for support of the spouse and they have completely different criteria. First of all, child support is mandatory and I mean every parent is mandated to support their children. Specifically, a non-custodial parent who has a specific child support obligation that he or she has to pay. Now, alimony is not mandatory, it is completely up to the discretion of the court.

There are of course a lot of misconceptions about alimony floating around, but alimony is up to the judge to decide as to whether it should be awarded at all. Under those same factors, the judge or the jury would look at should alimony be awarded at all, if so, for how much, for how long. These factors include the ages and financial resources of both parties, can the person whose alimony is being sought from afford to pay it, do they make enough to be able to pay that, and child support.

What’s the need for the alimony? Often it’s because you’ve had a spouse that has been stay-at-home parent for years and years and has never worked outside the home and needs to get some kind of marketable job skills, or the spouse is under some type of medical disability and just can’t work outside the home. Did they need to go back to school to get some type of education so that they can get the work force?

There are a lot of questions about the needs of the spouse as well as the ability of the payer to pay alimony. Some people are under the impression that alimony is just simply not awarded anymore and there may be some states that have that policy but that’s not the case in Georgia.

Alimony still can be awarded, it’s just that it’s not awarded quite frequently because women are in the workforce these days, it’s not like the old days where you just didn’t have women that worked outside the home very much and the women are in a position to a lot of times be able to support themselves without the need of support from their spouses. There are two forms of alimony, there’s periodic alimony and there’s lump sum alimony.

Period alimony is also called recurring alimony, which is a monthly sum that is paid to the spouse that’s in need of the alimony every month, or in some kind of recurring basis, lump sum alimony is where the payer just pays one sum, usually it’s rather sizeable but it’s lump sum and that could be anything from a few hundred dollars to several hundred thousand dollars but it’s a one-time payment that is represented as a single payment of alimony made to assist the spouse and then the payer has no other obligations to pay anything further to the spouse.

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