In a previous post it was discussed who may be awarded and who may be ordered to pay child support. If you fall into either one of these categories it is important that you understand the guidelines and factors that courts will look at to determine the amount of child support ordered.
How is Child Support Calculated?
A court will first look to the gross annual income of both parents to determine child support. This is referred to as an “income sharing” approach because it is based upon both the mother and father’s joint incomes, minus any deductions. In Georgia, the court uses a support calculator. You may visit the Georgia Court’s website to estimate what your child support may be on a monthly basis. The website also provides access to income information on Georgia’s Income Deduction Order process.
This calculation takes into account the salary, interest earned, trust income, tips, commission, and any other source of a parent’s income. Even if you do not have current employment, child support can still be computed. For instance, even if you receive unemployment benefits, disability benefits, Social Security payments or worker’s compensation payments. These types of payments will be included in the parent’s income used to calculate the child support amount. Furthermore, the court may consider past employment, education, training, and ability to work outside the home to determine the earning capacity of a parent rather than the actual income.
Can a Court Award a Child Support Amount Different From the Amount Calculated?
As stated above, the calculation a court will use is simply a guideline. Since it is not a hard line test, the court may increase or decrease the child support amount order depending on the individual circumstances of both parents as well as the best interests of the child. These can include the following:
- High income of the parents: if the combined income is $30,000 per month or greater
- Low income of the non-custodial parent: if the parent is earning $1,850 per month or less
- Health related insurance
- Life insurance: if one parent is insured and the policy names the child as the beneficiary
- Child and dependent care tax credit
- Travel expenses
- Permanency plan or foster care plan
- Extraordinary expenses such as medical conditions or education expenses
- Actual parenting time
The court will then look at the calculation as well as these additional factors as well as any others it believes important, to determine a child support amount. When the court does reach an amount of child support to award, it will include monetary support such as food, clothing and shelter, as well as health insurance and basic education expenses. The order may also include child care expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, visitation and travel costs, and extracurricular costs.
Whether you believe that you are entitled to child support or you are the party that child support is sought from, the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum will help to explain to you your rights. We will advocate for your rights and most importantly, ensure that the best interests of the child are met.