Hi, I'm Dave Ward from The Ward Law Firm. Child support in Georgia is based on the principle that both parents have a legal obligation to support their children. Georgia's child support guidelines rely on both parents' incomes to determine the amount each parent would be responsible for, but the actual calculation of child support is actually a bit more detailed and complicated.
Georgia has specific guidelines that detail how the court will determine the amount of child support. It considers several types of income and expenses for the children, and uses that to arrive at an adjusted income number. It will then use that, along with certain factors, in determining the actual amount that's to be paid. A lot goes into determining the amount of child support that one parent must pay. It's a good idea to have an attorney on your side who actually knows and understands how the child support guidelines and calculations work, just because they really are that complex.
The parent ordered to pay child support is responsible for paying it usually until a child reaches 18 or until they graduate high school, whichever happens last. However, in no circumstances are they required to pay it after the child turns 20. There are also some other factors that may terminate it, such as the emancipation or marriage of a child.
Over the years, children's needs will change and each parents' ability to pay will change as well, as their incomes change. If this happens, a parent can petition the court for a child support modification. In that case, they must present sufficient evidence to show that there has been a change warranting a modification of child support. Common reasons for modifications include a parent losing a job, a party's income having changed substantially, up or down, or a child moving in with the parent who's paying support. You can also ask a court to review your child support obligation every two years.
It's important to request and get approval for a child support modification prior to stopping payments though. Failing to pay could leave the parent in violation of the court's order and subject them to being held in contempt of court. Only a court can modify child support, which means that even if the situation would otherwise warrant a modification, such as the child moving in with the parent who's paying child support, what can end up happening is if you don't get the court to order that change that child support obligation will continue to accrue to the other parent, despite the fact the child is living with the paying one.
If you have any questions about child support, as it relates to a divorce case, a paternity and legitimation case, or if you're considering a modification, give me a call today. I'm Dave Ward with The Ward Law Firm and we protect business owners facing divorce.