Why is child support so complicated?

Child support is an essential part of every divorce because it affects your family’s financial future. The state sets rules through “Child Support Guidelines”. A judge considers these guidelines, but may adjust them depending on specific circumstances. It can be easy to get taken advantage of if you don’t have expert help from an experienced divorce attorney.

The following cases usually have the most complex child support calculations:

  • Your custody and visitation plan is unusual
  • You have high assets
  • You have deficient assets
  • You or your spouse have unreported income
  • Your spouse is not truthful about their income
  • Your child has special needs
  • You have a child with extraordinary medical or educational expenses
  • You have a child in private school

Common Questions for a Child Support Attorney

  • How do you calculate child support in Georgia? It’s based on an “income shares model.” This means that both parents are responsible for supporting the children in proportion to their income level. Georgia sets a Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO) for your monthly income level and number of minor children in the family. That Basic Child Support Obligation is then adjusted for the other financial circumstances of your family and divided between the parents according to the percentage of family income that they earn.
  • How do you divide child support between parents? In Georgia, each spouse is responsible for child support according to the percentage of income they earn for the family.
  • How long will child support be paid? For the most part, child support lasts until the child graduates from high school and turns 18. If the child turns 18 but is still in high school, then the child support continues until graduation from high school, but not beyond age 20. A few other events could end child support, like the child being emancipated or entering the military.
  • What happens if we have more than one child? Unless the parents agree to it beforehand, the support does not automatically reduce when one child turns 18. But, you can go back to court to have the support order modified.
  • Does child support help to pay for college? Not in Georgia. However, the parties can agree to one or both being responsible for the cost of college during the divorce.
  • What do child support orders cover? As long as the parents agree, it can cover any potential expense for your children.
  • Do I have to pay child support if we both have physical custody? In some cases, if your spouse’s income is much lower than yours, then you may have to pay so that the children will be comfortable while they stay with your spouse. This is a highly complex issue, and there are a lot of factors to take into account. If you face this situation, you need to contact one of our expert attorneys to discuss your case.
  • Do I pay tax on the child support I receive, and can they deduct the amount they pay? No to both.
  • What do we do if we have a change of circumstance? Child support can be modified every two years or if there is a substantial change of circumstance for the parents or the child. This would include job loss, getting a significant pay raise, a child developing an illness, or a myriad of other factors.
  • Do we have to go back to court to modify child support? Yes.  However, you don’t necessarily have to have a hearing to modify child support. If the two parties can agree on the new terms, you can ask the court to enter a Consent Order to modify the child support.
  • What if we agree on child support and it is different from the court’s order? The child support amount can only be set by court order. If you have been paying a different amount than the one set by the court, even with the other party’s consent, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to address the issue.
  • If we have agreed on child support, does the judge still have to order it? No. A judge is only required to review the particulars of a support agreement to verify it is in your child’s best interests. For this reason, it is best to get an attorney’s input while creating the agreement, so the judge is more likely to accept it.

Our child support attorneys are very familiar with support matters, and some even teach child support classes to other lawyers and mediators. Call or email us today to speak with a Waggoner Hastings attorney who can answer all your child support questions.