When you are a single parent, things can get challenging. Both your personal life and your finances can change drastically. Even if you share custody with your ex, often one parent bears more of the financial burden of raising the children. To ensure that children are well taken care of in both parents’ homes, the state of Georgia requires most parents who do not have primary custody to pay child support.
Child support is regular financial support paid from one parent to the other. It is generally based on both parents’ income and the costs of raising a child. However, child support can be established even if one parent does not have income or is hiding income.
How Much is Child Support?
The goal of child support is to make sure both parents can afford to care for the children. It is intended to provide the children with as much financial means as they would have had if their parents were still together. The amount of child support will be based on things like:
- Each parent’s income
- The number of children
- Childcare expenses
- Health insurance for the children
- Education expenses
- Extracurricular expenses
- Special individualized care needs
The Georgia legislature has created a formula to calculate child support based on these factors. However, parents often disagree on what the other parent makes or how much things for the children cost. It is important to have the right numbers to start with to ensure the right result is reached. If appropriate, the court is also able to adjust the calculated child support amount based on other relevant factors.
Another part of child support is expenses that parents must pay for their children. Insurance, out-of-pocket medical costs, and childcare are a big part of child-rearing expenses. The child support order will address which parent will pay these expenses. Frequently, these costs are split in half or proportional to each parent’s income.
Dealing with Difficult Income Situations
In some cases, calculating the amount of a parent’s income may not be straightforward. They may have an income that varies a lot or is not well documented. They might not be earning income or not earning up to their potential right now. In those situations, it is especially important to have an attorney doing the child support calculations. Getting this calculation wrong can lead to years of child support that is either too high or too low.
Child Support and Shared Custody
Child support is typically paid from the parent who does not have custody to the parent who has custody. However, child support can still be ordered even if physical custody is split 50/50. In that case, child support will be provided to the lower-earning parent. The goal is to ensure that the child has the same amount of resources, no matter where he or she lives. If appropriate, child support can be reduced when parenting time is 50/50.
How Is Child Support Paid?
Generally, one parent pays child support directly to the other parent by a set date each month. If a parent fails to pay their child support, the other parent can file a contempt or get help from the Division of Child Support Services to make the other parent pay.
Another option is to have child support taken out of the paying parent’s paycheck. Some parents like this arrangement because it makes payments automatic—and avoids late or partial payments. In this option, the paying parent’s employer will send the child support to the Department of Human Services “DHS.” DHS then sends the support to the receiving parent.
Getting Legal Help for Child Support Issues
If you need help with any issue related to child support, Porchlight is here for you. We can help make sure you are receiving or paying the right amount of child support for your unique situation. Call today to schedule a free Legal Clarity Session with our team or use our contact form to get started.