Georgia’s child support laws were changed in 2007 to an income shares model, which takes the income of both parents into consideration when calculating an award of child support. Prior to 2007, only the income of the non-custodial parent was considered. Under the new child support guidelines, consideration is given to more than just income and assets. Both parents’ abilities to earn, as well as certain expenses they pay on a regular basis are factored in. Further, expenses such as the cost of child care, medical, dental and vision insurance, extraordinary tuition costs, extra-curricular activities, pre-existing child support orders, etc. are all entered into a child support worksheet (which can be found at http://cscalc.gaaoc.us/), which then calculates a presumptive child support obligation which the non-custodial parent will have to pay. However, the presumptive child support obligation can, either by agreement of the parties or by order of the court, be deviated upward or downward, based on factors such as travel required to exercise visitation, failure of one parent to exercise visitation, low or extraordinarily high income, and other factors.
Because child support awards can be modified only once every two years, absent a material change of circumstance, it is important to have an experienced attorney who is well versed in Georgia child support laws and guidelines, to ensure you are paying – or receiving – an amount of child support that is appropriate to your circumstances. Lisa Sowers has extensive experience litigating child support, and working with child support worksheets, and frequently attends continuing legal education courses to keep herself abreast of the latest changes in child support laws.