Child Support in Atlanta

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Determining the care and support of minor children following a divorce is one of the most important decisions to be made. The State of Georgia requires both parents to provide physically and financially for their children until a child reaches the age of 18, dies, graduates from high school, marries, is emancipated, or joins the military.


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Child support can extend past the age of 18 when a child is still in high school. Other forms of financial support can be raised to address and provide for adult children with lifelong disabilities.

If parents are unable to come to an amicable agreement on their own, the court will determine the amount of child support to be provided by one spouse to the other.

However, even when the parents agree, the court is still required to ensure the amount of child support provided is in compliance with the Georgia Child Support Guidelines and meets all statutory obligations. The court can reject the agreement if it does not meet these guidelines.

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What Parents Needs to Know

Generally, the primary custodial parent (the person caring for the child more than half the time), may collect regular child support from the other parent. However, that depends on certain variables, such as the income of each parent, other expenses being paid for the children by each parent, and the parenting schedule.

Parents are not permitted to waive the child(ren)’s right to receive child support, as that right belongs to the child(ren). The same applies to the receiving parent being prohibited from waiving the right to an increase in child support as that right also belongs to the child(ren).

However, the obligated party may legally waive their right to seek a downward modification of child support.

Our child support attorneys have the experience to work closely with you to determine a fair and accurate amount of child support you should pay or receive. Our goal is to ensure the most appropriate and reasonable amount of child support for your children’s care.

How Child Support is Determined

During a custody dispute (whether an initial custody dispute or a modification action), it is the court’s job to determine child custody and child support based on what is in the best interest of the child.

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It is essential to have an experienced family law attorney handle your child support case.

Depending on the judge assigned to your case, he or she may look at anything they consider relevant when determining the child’s best interests. While Georgia law prohibits juries from determining custody matters (as well as the parenting time schedule), leaving this decision solely in the hands of the judge, parties do have a right to submit the issue of child support to a jury for determination.

It is essential to have an experienced family law attorney handle your child support case. In Georgia, judges calculate child support based upon the Georgia Child Support Guidelines which utilizes a specific self-calculating worksheet based upon each parent’s respective income, and taking into consideration certain variables, and automatic and non-automatic deviations.

The Georgia legislature created the Child Support Guidelines to encompass an “income share” approach to determining child support. Both parent’s incomes, as well as, any essential expenses, will be considered to determine the amount each parent will have to pay in child support.

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Addiction and Alimony

The Georgia child support worksheet is not a magical one step determination of child support. Each side of a case can reach very different child support numbers despite the same set of facts, based upon certain specific deviations and non-specific deviations, and any debate over either parents’ actual income amount to use.

Common areas of dispute include:

Common Disputes

Amount of a spouse’s variable income (the court may average variable income such as bonuses over a “reasonable” period of time)

Amount of childcare “reasonably necessary” for a spouse’s employment

Amount of “special expenses” (such as private school or extraordinary medical expenses) to be discretionarily included

The court may increase or decrease the child support order depending on the individual circumstances of both parents and the best interest of the child.

Additional factors the judge will consider include:

Additional Factors

Number of children and their ages

Health and dental insurance expenses

Self-employment taxes

Social Security benefits paid for children

Extraordinary medical expenses

Extraordinary educational expenses

In-kind income for the self-employed

Long-distance travel for visitation

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How Addiction Impacts Child Support

Since substance and alcohol abuse can negatively impact the addicted parent’s employment or employment advancement. Having a family law attorney with extensive knowledge of child support laws and guidelines, combined with significant personal and professional experience in addiction and co-dependency, can help ensure the best results for you and your child(ren).

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In Georgia, factors considered when addiction is an issue include:

  • The child(ren)’s needs and expenses
  • If the child has an addiction, the court may require either or both parents to economically support the child through treatment
  • Health insurance and medical expenses (adult or child addict)
  • Adult addict’s income and ability to pay child support
  • Adult addict’s criminal record, history of abuse or inability to work due to addiction

The judge will look at the totality of circumstances when determining child support, but current Georgia case law is trending toward the recognition that an addiction issue is often a health issue. Each case is different.

Again, since the decision to award child support lies with the judge, alcohol or controlled substance addiction may or may not be factors the court considers in determining the obligation to pay child support.

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Legal Options for Enforcing Child Support

In a perfect world, parents consistently and timely make their child support payments. When that is not the case, Chambers Family Law can help you file with the court for one or more of the following solutions:

  • Garnishment of wages or income tax refunds
  • Placement of liens on property or assets
  • Contempt of court legal action against the non-paying parent

Our experienced divorce attorneys at Chambers Family Law have extensive knowledge of Georgia’s child support laws and guidelines.

We can help you navigate this emotionally challenging piece of your divorce agreement to result in the best outcome for you and for your children.

Chambers Family Law’s experienced attorneys can help you navigate this delicate and often contentious topic.

Atlanta’s Best Child Support Attorneys

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

In Georgia, the mother of a child born out of wedlock may file an action against the biological father to establish his paternity and to collect child support.

Generally, a change in either parent’s income or financial status or in the needs of the child(ren) are required to establish a modification of child support. That applies to an upward or downward modification.

Yes. A Contempt Petition can be filed in the county where the original child support order was entered, seeking to compel the compliance of the obligated parent to pay the court ordered support, by seeking incarceration of the obligated parent in arrears until they have complied and made full payment, and also seeking an award of attorney fees for having to pursue such measures to collect on an existing court ordered obligation.

If the obligated parent fails to appear for the hearing on contempt, the court can issue an order for arrest and the state in which the obligated parent is now living should cooperate and allow the extradition of that parent to Georgia until he or she has fully complied.

Further, the recently enacted federal law known as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, or UIFSA, has provisions for enforcement of child support orders across state lines.

Chambers Family Law can help provide the necessary documentation and verified statements needed.

Yes, child support is intended to not only be used for expenses that are incurred directly for the child(ren), but also includes expenses that indirectly benefit the child(ren), such as for housing, transportation, utilities, food, clothing, insurance, childcare, and education.

Potentially qualifying special expenses will be activities intended to enhance the child's athletic, social, or cultural development.

These special expenses may include summer camp, music and art lessons, band, athletics, clubs, and other school-sponsored activities. Child support may also be used for visitation costs, such as travel costs associated with the child(ren) visiting their other parent.

Yes. the courts will consider a modification to increase or lower a child support order if there has been a substantial change in either parent’s income or financial status, including either parent’s ability to pay child support, or a change in the needs of the child(ren).

If a parent has lost their job or suffered some other extreme hardship, they can file for a downward modification.

Likewise, if the obligated parent has a significant increase in income or financial status, the receiving parent may file for an upward modification.

You may also be able to seek a modification if you have retired, lost a job, gained a new job, or had a significant change in health or income.

There are certain time limitations on when either parent can seek an upward or downward modification, so it is important to seek legal counsel before considering and/or requesting a modification.