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How Is Child Support Determined?

In Georgia, child support is determined on what is called an income share model. That means that the gross income of each parent is put into an Excel worksheet and from there, it pulls from different tables, and the mathematical reasoning behind it is a little arcane, but basically what it’ll do is it’ll spit out a number based upon these mathematical tables that represents what each parent’s child support obligation should be.

Of course a parent who is making, let’s say, $80,000 a year is going to pay more of the support and it’s going to be based on these mathematical tables. If the other parent is only making $20,000, for instance, that parent with the lower income is going to have 20 percent of the child support obligation and the other parent’s going to have 80 percent. I use those numbers just for kind of an easy explanation, but the final child support number is determined by the mathematical equation. It really is tied to the income of both parties.

There are other factors that are placed within the equation, such as if there are daycare expenses, the cost of the child’s health insurance, extra-curricular expenses for activities, and so on. If one person has another child that they’re supporting, that’s called a Qualified Child Exemption that can be added into the mix as well. The final number that the equation produces at the end is called the presumptive child support amount that the non-custodial parent should pay to the custodial parent.

How is Child Support Determined if There are Several Children During the Divorce?

It’s done on an Excel worksheet, so you go in and the different tables that’ll prompt you as to what data to put in, but you put in the number of children that support is being determined for and then the mathematical formula just calculates all that.

Often, people will call and say, “Can you give me an idea of what my child support would be if I’m making $65,000 and my former wife is making $40,000 and there’s three kids.” It’s really hard to do off the top of your head because of all the mathematical equations that are factored in. Sometimes I can guess what it’s going to be and I’m usually pretty well within the target but most of the time, you just need to go ahead and do the calculations and that’ll give you the definitive answer.

How Long Does Someone Have to Pay for Child Support?

In Georgia, child support is paid until one of several factors first occurs: the child dies, marries, becomes emancipated, joins the armed forces, turned 18, or in the event that the child turns 18 but is still attending secondary school, which is high school, then child support will continue until the child graduates from high school. In other words, if child is senior in high school and turns 18 in March of the year that he’s graduating, the child support would continue until May or June or whenever he graduates.

In no event can child support be paid past age 20. The reason that caveat is placed in the code is because sometimes you have special needs children that just take longer to get through secondary school or you may have a child with some kind of medical issue where they’ve had to drop out and get back in school when their health allowed. It allows for those situations where child support should be extended while the child is trying to get to graduation.

How Do Factors Such as Medicine or Daycare Come into Play?

Daycare is a factor and that can make a very big difference in the bottom line of the child support.  That is something that is put into the formula under the current law.  It was not a factor under the old law of the gross percentage payment. Extracurricular activities are also put in into the formula.  I don’t think there is a separate one for medical expenses in the formula but the judge can address uncovered medical expenses separately. Usually, what the judge will do is to tell the parties that they need to split whatever the uncovered medical expenses are, or the judge can use some kind of allocation.

Sometimes they go by what the child support allocation is, like for instance on the child support figuring, if the father has 60 per cent of the obligation and the mother has 40 per cent, sometimes the judges will order the uncovered medical expenses to be allocated the same way.  Most of the time, the judges here are just going to order the uncovered medical expenses to split equally but that’s how medical bills are handled. Of course, the cost of the premium of the insurance is put into the formula to begin with.

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