Despite the complex emotions involved, the divorce process involves several routine, practical steps. While there are things like the receipt of a divorce summons and the separation of assets, couples also must determine how the welfare of their children will be maintained after the divorce. While some divorces proceed relatively smoothly and parents can agree on how parental responsibilities will be divided without an argument, other divorces are much more argumentative, and the court must intervene to create a division of parenting responsibilities and child support.

How Child Support is Calculated

In January 2007, Georgia altered its child support laws and began what is referred to as an “Income Shares Model” for calculating child support. This means that child support in Georgia is calculated using a form created by the Georgia legislature. Current regulations require that the total gross income of both parties is taken into consideration. This includes income from all sources before any tax deductions are made including things like salaries as well as inheritances that are received.

Child-Related Costs in Georgia Divorces

Most parents are aware that raising children is not cheap. According to the statistics compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture, children become more expensive as they age. The cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 increased by 25% from 2000 to 2010. Child support was created to make sure that both parents end up contributing to the costs associated with child care. This includes several things such as clothing, education, and even sporting equipment. 

Child support costs can significantly vary depending on the child’s age, the parents’ custody arrangements, and additional financial needs. For example, working parents might need to hire a nanny or send a child to daycare when the child is too young to attend school. Later when the child is in school, there might be the additional costs of attending summer camp or joining sports leagues. The role of these basic support obligations (or, the minimum amount that a supporting parent must pay) was created to cover necessities for the child. This obligation is divided among parents based on their income. 

Below is a detailed list that breaks down these factors to provide a clearer understanding of how child support might be calculated and adjusted:

  1. Variation by Age:
    • Early Childhood Costs:
      • Childcare: For younger children who are not yet school-aged, costs might include daycare or hiring a nanny.
      • Pre-School: Early education programs or preschools may also factor into costs.
    • School-Aged Children:
      • Educational Costs: Expenses might include school supplies, uniforms, and field trips.
      • Extracurricular Activities: Costs for joining sports teams, clubs, or leagues.
      • Summer Camps: Fees for summer camps when school is not in session.
  2. Basic Support Obligations:
    • Purpose: Designed to cover essential living expenses for the child, such as food, clothing, and housing.
    • Income-Based Division: This obligation is typically divided between the parents based on their respective incomes and the proportion of time the child spends with each parent.
  3. Adjustments for Shared Custody:
    • Definition of Shared Custody: Generally refers to arrangements where the child spends at least 40% of the year overnight with each parent.
    • Impact on Support: Shared custody arrangements can lead to adjustments in support payments, reflecting the shared financial responsibility due to increased time spent with each parent.
  4. Additional Support Requirements:
    • Healthcare: Costs for medical and dental care that are not covered by insurance.
    • School-Related Expenses: Fees for special educational needs, tutoring, or private schooling.
    • Childcare Fees: Continued childcare expenses, especially relevant for younger children during school breaks or after school.
    • Extracurricular Activities: Additional contributions towards sports, arts, and other developmental activities.
  5. Legal and Practical Considerations:
    • Court Orders: Child support amounts and additional expenses are often formalized through court orders or agreements during divorce proceedings.
    • Adjustment Mechanisms: Provisions for periodic review and adjustment of support payments to accommodate changes in the cost of living, parental incomes, or the child’s needs.
  6. Comprehensive Planning:
    • Financial Planning: Parents are encouraged to plan financially for these varying costs, taking into account the growth and evolving needs of the child.
    • Negotiation and Mediation: Parents may use negotiation or mediation to agree on the specifics of additional support, aiming to avoid conflicts and ensure the child’s needs are met efficiently.

This support might be adjusted further when the two parents share custody, which refers to when the child spends the night with each parent for at least 40% of the year. To make matters even more complex, child support is not the only obligation a parent might be requested to pay.

Instead, parents are sometimes asked to provide additional support for important expenses like medical and dental care, school expenses, childcare fees, and extracurricular activities.

Speak with an Experienced Georgia Family Law Attorney Today

To make sure that your child receives adequate care after the end of your marriage, it is critical to fully address child support during the divorce process. While many challenges can arise with enforcing and paying child support, an experienced family law attorney can help. 

Contact Vayman & Teitelbaum, PC today to schedule a free case evaluation.