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A Brief Look at How Child Support Is Calculated

Child support is financial assistance that a non-custodial parents pays to the custodial parent of their minor child or children—in order to support the health and general wellbeing of the child. In 2014, 235 child support orders were received in Georgia, according to the Georgia Commission on Child Support. If you’re going through a child custody suit in Georgia, it’s important to understand how the court orders and calculates payments.  Child support

How Georgia Courts Calculate Child Support

Because a non-custodial parent pays support to the custodial parent—the parent who has the child more than half the time—courts carefully consider numerous factors. Before 2007, Georgia considered the income of only the non-custodial parent and calculated a percentage that made sense. Since then, however, courts consider many factors on both sides, including:

  • Both parents’ incomes. Gross incomes from all sources before taxes are considered—including self-employment, real estate investments, and programs like social security or unemployment. These are added together and entered into a worksheet.
  • The child’s best interests. Child support calculations also consider a child’s standard of care before the divorce proceedings. These include special needs, insurance, food and shelter, as well as education. Based on these factors, a number will be determined representing the total amount a child needs each month for full support.
  • The needs of the non-custodial parent. A non-custodial parent must still be able to support herself after paying child support to the custodial parent. For this reason, if the non-custodial parent makes 50 percent of the combined monthly income, she will be financially responsible for 50 percent of the child’s needs.

Though these factors seem simple, the courts may also increase or decrease that payment amount based on other auxiliary factors such as travel, parenting time, tax credits, and the following:

  • Childcare. Previously, the custodial parent was 100 percent responsible for childcare costs such as babysitting and daycare. However, now courts divide these costs under the same ratio rule discussed above.
  • Insurance and healthcare. The non-custodial parent may also be required to pay her ratio of extra medical, dental, or vision care costs.
  • Educational expenses. If the custodial parent decides to enroll the child into a more expensive school or extracurricular activities, the paying parent may have to accommodate for a portion of those costs also.

Answers to Your Child Support Questions

Take advantage of Georgia’s Child Support Calculator to estimate costs. However, if you find you’re confused about how to apply for child support, your child support payment amount, or another component of the child support process, we can help. The attorneys at Duffy & Feemster have combined experience of over 100 years, and we can put it to work for you. Give us a call at (888) 707-1197 to get started on your case.


Dwight T. Feemster
Dwight is a civil and criminal attorney in Georgia.

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