After child custody is determined in a divorce, legitimation, or child custody modification is determined, the next step for the court is often to assess child support. How is child support determined?
Child support in Georgia is calculated using an income shares model, which was adopted by Georgia in 2007. Prior to January 1, 2007, Georgia calculated child support based on the income of the non-custodial parent solely. Now that Georgia follows the income shares model, support is calculated by taking into account each parent’s income to ultimately determine how much child support the noncustodial parent will be ordered to pay.
The first step in calculating support in Georgia is to determine the gross income of each parent. For the purposes of a support calculation, gross income includes: salary, wages, commissions, self-employment income, bonuses, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, judgments from personal injury claims or other civil cases, gifts, prizes, and any other sources of income.
Once each parent’s gross income is determined, both parent’s monthly income is added together to determine the combined monthly income earned by both parents. Georgia’s basic obligation table must then be consulted to determine the combined basic support obligation. The basic obligation table is a chart that corresponds to basic child support obligations with combined monthly incomes. After consulting the basic obligation table and determine the combined basic support obligation, that amount must be divided proportionally between the parents, depending on the percentage of each parent’s contribution to the combined income amount.
After the basic support obligation is determined for each parent, there are adjustments and deviations that are allowed to the presumptive child support amount to account for certain special situations or other payments a parent is making on behalf of the minor child or children who will benefit from the child support obligation. For the convenience of both practitioners and litigants, the Georgia Child Support Commission offers a free child support calculator, commonly referred to as Georgia’s Child Support Worksheet, which will automatically calculate the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation once each parent’s gross income is imputed. The online calculator may be found at the Georgia Child Support Commission’s website.
It is important to only use the Georgia child support calculator when determining the presumptive support amount or calculating the final child support amount in a Georgia divorce or family law matter.