No one really enjoys paying bills. For parents who are separated, the bills can also include child support. Providing financial support for your child is a legal obligation that starts the moment you are legally recognized as that child’s parent, and it continues until the child reaches the age of 18. While some divorced families get along great and are still vacationing together, according to NBC News, the majority of couples live completely separate lives, both physically and financially.

Child Support and More

Georgia child support petitions can be filed as part of the divorce, paternity proceeding, or when the parents live separately, but do not have a divorce petition pending. It is highly unlikely that you will escape the obligation of paying child support if you have a child and you are not living with the other parent and the child. In fact, if you are the one who has to pay child support, you may also be required to provide other support, such as health insurance.

Here is what the court will look at to determine what you are obligated to contribute to support your child:

Health Insurance

As noted above, health insurance coverage for each child is required by one or both parents. A parent will be excused from providing this benefit if he or she can show the cost is unreasonable or the available policies at his or her place of employment do not include providers that are accessible to the child. Health insurance is considered accessible if it can be used in the county where the child primarily lives or in another a county, if there is agreement with the other parent. If the parents divide parenting time equally, health insurance is accessible if it can be used in the county in which either parent lives.

Parents’ Income  

Child support calculations are based on the net monthly income of both parents, which is then plugged into a chart that uses net income plus the number of children to arrive at the monthly child support payment. A court can deviate from the guidelines by 5% after considering factors related to the child’s need, age, standard of living, and financial situation of each parent. If the court wants to adjust the child support amount by more than 5%, it must produce a written explanation as to why such a variance is necessary to avoid an unjust or inappropriate result.

Monthly income is computed from a parent’s gross income, which includes the following:

  • Salary or wages;
  • Bonuses and commissions;
  • Disability benefits;
  • Unemployment benefits;
  • Social security benefits; and
  • Rental income.

Net income is based on gross income minus allowable deductions. Some the permitted deductions include:

  • Federal, state and local income tax deductions;
  • Self-employment tax;
  • Mandatory retirement payments;
  • Health insurance payments, other than for the minor child; and
  • Court-ordered support for other children.

Other variable can affect the final payment amount, but this is the basic formula used by Georgia courts to calculate child support.

Call an Attorney

Any proceeding related to child support establishment, modification, or enforcement has a lot riding on the outcome, so you want to give yourself the best possible opportunity to get the result you desire. Working with a Georgia family law attorney will give you that edge because the lawyer will know how the law should apply to you and can argue those points to a judge. Vayman and Teitelbaum, Attorneys at Law, represent clients in Alpharetta, Lawrenceville, Cumming, and Marietta, and offer the experience necessary to get you the best possible outcome for you and your child. Contact them to schedule an appointment.