Any aspect of child support can be agreed upon in mediation. Basically they have a lot of levy in how they come up with numbers. Sometimes, you’ll have a couple that will agree between themselves how much child support should be and then they just have to kind of quote back into the number on the worksheet to show how they came up with it but I’ve seen people do that. Sometimes people agree to do things like to split extracurricular activities, costs outside of the worksheet. I’ve seen people agree to split the cost of daycare outside the worksheet.
The advantage of doing that is that if the cost of daycare is not built into the child support obligation, then that’s actually better for the person that’s paying child support because when daycare ends, then he or she doesn’t have to take the other person back to court to refigure the child support obligation because the evidence of child care really does make a big difference on the bottom line child support. But if they can agree on that and they go to court, the judge is just going to put the child care expenses into the formula and the payer’s going to be stuck with it.
Can Child Support be Adjusted if the Person Receiving it Starts to Earn More?
The financial improvement of the receiving parent is definitely a ground for child support. So, if you have a parent who is paying child support and the custodial parent gets a new job, starts making more money or things of that nature, then the person that’s paying child support can file a modification to lower the child support based on the new and improved circumstances of the custodial parent.
What if a Recipient Experiences Difficulty in Obtaining Child Support?
My first response to that would be if it’s a type of person who is just really your basic deadbeat parent and is just determined not to pay it and is very resourceful at not being found, you’re really dealing with a criminal type of person, and those people are very hard to collect from.
Fortunately, most of the people that pay child support are honorable people, have some kind of income, so the best thing the recipient can do is to ask the court to issue an income deduction order. That’s an order that’s separate from the child support order but they’re both interrelated because the income deduction order goes to the employer and the employer will deduct the child support from the person’s wages and then the recipient spouse gets the check through the Family Support Registry in Georgia.
It doesn’t work in every situation though. If you have a payer who’s self-employed, well good luck getting him to take it out on himself or herself. It also doesn’t really work very well with somebody, and I guess it’s still in the vein of self-employed like real estate agent who is paid back commissions and is not paid by salary, but if somebody is a W2 employee, those are the best kinds of cases for an income deduction order because the employer just simply has to comply with the income deduction order and send it to the family support registry.
What Happens in Paternity Fraud Cases?
Interestingly, that kind of situation can be addressed in Georgia. Several years ago, we had a long history of cases in Georgia that basically said that if a man thought he was the biological father of a child and paid child support for that child but he in fact was not the father, that was just too bad because it was deemed in the best interest of the child to not upset that whole legal obligation there but there were so many people that really felt that that was unfair.
It was to punish a person that was under the mistake and belief that they were the biological father and especially if there’s the outright deception going on, so the law in Georgia was amended about 10 or 11 years ago to address paternity fraud and what it allowed somebody to do was to go back in and get relief on a child support order even if they found out years after the fact.
Once they obtained the information, they’d have to act on it within a certain period of time but it didn’t matter if it was like years after a divorce or years after the child was conceived, they can ask actually for a paternity test at any time and the other parent would have to comply and then the parent who mistakenly thought that he was the biological father can then ask the court for financial relief from having to pay child support.
There are some stats that’s still operating under the old school thinking. In Michigan, there is a case going on right now where a man has been locked up for not paying child support and it’s proven that he was not the father but the law there apparently is that they don’t have any relief from paternity fraud statutes. That guy is just out of luck and it’s just really a miscarriage of justice and fortunately, Georgia addressed that problem long time ago.
What Important Message Do You Want to Convey Regarding Child Support?
It’s very important to get the numbers as accurately as you can and the old saying about garbage in, garbage out really applies here because you can’t get an accurate child support figure unless you have accurate supporting data.
If somebody comes in and tells me that they make $100,000 a year but that’s not really what they make or sometimes people get confused on net and gross and it is based on gross, things like bonuses, that can count also although when people work in a type of employment where they get a bonus, which of course can be different every year and that’s not always guaranteed, I’m going to want to know that that is the case at their work because then we’ll take a different approach and maybe do an average of the last 3 years to get a fair number.
But having accurate information to be able to put into the child support calculation is crucial because you’re just not going to have a number that represents what the true figures should be unless you have accurate figures from everybody, from both the spouses. They consider the health insurance for children, extracurricular activities, so that’s just really the most important ground rule for being able to calculate something accurately and fairly.
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