In Georgia, a parent is generally expected to pay for the support and care of his or her children until the children reach 18. There are certain exceptions related to emancipation, the marriage of the child before 18 and whether or not the child has graduated from high school by 18. While it's well-known and well-accepted that parents must support their children, the amount of support each parent is obligated to provide depends on each family's situation.
Georgia requires that the amount of child support meets both the needs of the child and the ability of a parent to pay. A basic child support obligation can be estimated by determining the gross income of both parents and applying it to the child support guidelines established by the Georgia Child Support Commission. A child support attorney can help you understand how the guidelines work and how you can determine the minimum amount of child support that should be paid by one parent.
There are two keys to working with the guidelines: 1-Determining gross income of the paying parent and 2-Understanding that the amount determined by applying the guidelines is only a minimum. Georgia law provides several reasons that allow for deviation from the guideline amount in order to serve the best interests of the child.
What is Gross Income for Calculation of Georgia Child Support?
Determining what actually is includable as gross income is the first step toward applying the Georgia guidelines to calculate a parent's child support obligation. Gross income includes salary, wages, commissions, tips, bonuses, overtime, trust income, lottery winnings, some disability benefits, unemployment payments and several other sources of income. Gross income is not limited simply to the amount reflected on a weekly, biweekly or monthly paycheck. It may or may not be a straightforward determination.
There are also specific exclusions from gross income including child support received by one parent for the benefit of a child from another relationship, certain forms of public assistance and a nonparent's income.
As with child custody, Georgia does allow parents to come to an agreement on who should pay what amount of child support. But, the agreement must be approved by a Georgia court in order to be enforceable.