Gone are the days when child support in Georgia meant that one parent lived with the children and the other parent paid all the child support. In 2007, Georgia adopted a more complex system, which considers the income of both parents when determining support.
The general principle is that each parent provides a percentage of child support based on their share of total parental income. For example, if the mother earns $3,000 per month and the father earns $2,000, the total for both is $5,000. Thus, the mother's percentage of total income is 60 percent and the father's is 40 percent. The court will use a table that shows how much of the parents' combined income should be spent to care for the child each month; it will then order the mother to contribute 60 percent of that amount and the father to contribute 40 percent.
Health insurance and education costs for children are added to the child support amount and split proportionally between the parents.
To satisfy the child support requirement, the custodial parent - the one the children live with - must spend his or her share of child support on the child and be prepared to demonstrate to the court where that money is going. The noncustodial parent pays his or her share of support directly to the custodial parent.
The court will take other factors into account in order to accommodate individual situations. For example, parents who support other children who are not part of the child custody case will sometimes be required to pay less support per month.
In addition, the court will look at special expenses, called deviations, to try to distribute the parents' obligations fairly. Common situations include cases where one parent has to spend a lot of money to travel to visit the child or has significant medical expenses that make it hard to pay their share of support.
Ultimately, the goal of the Georgia child support system is to balance all of these factors in a way that serves the child's best interest.