Georgia Child Support Laws 2018
An Overview of Georgia Child Support Laws
In 2018, via Georgia SB427, the state of Georgia enacted remarkable changes to child support laws. These changes are what you might call "common sense provisions" that help parents with the realistic aspects of receiving and paying child support.
The Court now requires that "step-down" language be added to the final divorce documents. This allows child support to change as children age out and leave younger siblings. Essentially, it eliminates the need to come back to court and request a reduction in child support as children turn 18 years of age.
Child support laws in Georgia were significantly overhauled and improved in 2007. To better understand child support laws in Georgia you should explore the 2007 support laws. The core element of the 2007 changes was implementing an "income shares model" for calculating child support payments. This child support model considers incomes of each parent and contributing factors to determine how much is reasonable.
How is Georgia Child Support Calculated?
Calculating child support payments in Georgia is relatively complicated due to the numerous factors that affect the calculation. Additionally, the judge has some latitude in making a final decision. You can read about the factors that affect child support in Georgia in a separate article posted on our blog. This article also provides examples of how to calculate child support payments in Georgia.
Temporary vs. Permanent Child Support
Temporary Child Support
Filing divorce almost always means parents will not be living together from that point forward. The separation of the parties typically means that one party retains primary custody of the minor child(ren) and the other has visitation. Sometimes, the parents can agree on providing financial support for the minor child(ren) during the divorce process. However, many times court intervention is required in order to establish child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent. The way to eliminate a lot of fighting and have better financial stability is to have the court issue a temporary order for critical matters such as child support, custody, and visitation.
The parent with the children must request a Temporary Hearing be scheduled in order to obtain a Temporary Order. If you hire a truly good divorce lawyer they will request a temporary hearing when you file for divorce (or respond to your spouse’s divorce petition.
Final Child Support Order
A Final Child Support Order is obtained at the time that the divorce is granted. The final child support number can either be obtained by agreement between the attorneys or by order of the court after presentment of financial records to the court. The Final Child Support Order will account for which parent is paying for the health insurance of the minor child, private school expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, and often times work-related child care expenses.
Modification of Child Support in Georgia
To change a court order your lawyer will prepare and file a motion for modification. A child support modification needs to show reasons why the standing order should be modified. Common reasons are that one or both parents have had significant changes in income (up or down), and the needs of the child have substantially changed.
A modification order can be requested only every two years. There are circumstances where the court may waive the waiting period including involuntary job loss, a significant change in parenting time, or a noncustodial parent not exercising available visitation.
When Does Child Support End in Georgia
In Georgia, child support obligations can be terminated with the occurrence of any of the following circumstances:
- The death of the child
- The child turns 18 years of age and graduates from high school. (but not to exceed 20 years of age)
- A minor child is legally emancipated.
How to Legally Terminate Child Support in Georgia
It is extremely important for you to understand that a court order remains in effect and enforceable until it is vacated, or reaches a defined set of requirements as set forth in the Courts Order. Should you find yourself in a position where your parental rights are terminated you will still be obligated to provide financial support until an adoption of your child is finalized.
Georgia Child Support Enforcement Laws
Unfortunately, it is common for the non-custodial parent to sometimes be late on a child support payment. If someone is behind by a payment or two you may be able to talk and agree to a way to catch up. When non-payment is a chronic issue, and the past due amount continues to increase, filing a child support enforcement action or filing a Motion for Contempt is your best option to make things right.
A parent who is failing to obey a court order can be found in contempt of court. Potential penalties include fines and jail time – in addition to still having to pay the full past-due amount.
How Are Arrears Collected?
Past due child support can be collected in a number of ways. The collection of overdue child support payments can be pursued even after child support payments are no longer due.
Wage garnishment is a common method of collecting support funds that are in arrears. When a parent fails to pay child support as directed, the court may garnish paychecks for the normal amount, plus an extra amount, until the past due amount is recovered.
Other ways to collect arrears include:
- Withholding child support from unemployment or worker’s comp benefits.
- Intercepting tax refund payments.
- Suspending driver’s, professional or occupational licenses
- Filing liens to seize bank accounts, lump-sum settlements or property.