Child Support Laws in Georgia: What They Are and How They Work: Part 1

Every child comes from a relationship, however long or short. Those relationships come with emotional baggage. No matter what the situation may be with your ex, the fact is that the child you share is both of your responsibility. In most child custody cases, one parent will be the primary custodian: the parent that the child lives with most of the time. Regardless of whether you’re the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent, or the parent of a child who lives with a third party, it’s important to know the basics of Georgia’s child support laws. Our experts at Oxendine Law are here to give you a crash course in our two-part blog series.

How Child Support Works in Georgia

Child support is governed by the state, so every state has its own child support laws. In Georgia in general, the non-custodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent. If a third party like a grandparent has custody of your child, both parents may need to pay child support. Keep in mind that your child support obligation is determined by the Court. It isn’t something you can negotiate during a divorce,or custody case to agree upon a child support amount that works for each of you as long as it is in the best interest of the children. However, in the eyes of the law, child support is the right of the child, so the custodial parent cannot simply waive child support.

How the Court Sets a Child Support Obligation Amount

Georgia uses something called a “shared income model” to determine child support payments. They primarily look at each parent’s income to divide the financial cost of raising the child proportionally. The Court may also consider unique circumstances, such as any special needs the child has that may add to the cost of their healthcare or development.

Why You Shouldn’t “Keep It Out of the Courts”

Some parents think they are doing themselves and their child a favor by avoiding the expense and legal process of setting up Court-mandated child support payments by simply entering into an agreement between themselves about the amount of child support to be paid. Perhaps the relationship ends on cordial terms and the custodial parent believes that they can trust the other parent to pay their share. In truth, this decision can come back to bite both parents.

If you’re the custodial parent, you have no guarantee that your ex will hold up their end of the bargain by continuing to pay, even if you have it in writing. If they stop paying, it will require a much longer process to collect the money because you will first need to get a child support order from the Court and then start the process of collecting the payments. If you’re the non-custodial parent, it’s also in your best interest to get a child support order. Let’s say you are a father who who was never married to the mother, you parted ways with your child’s mother when the child was two years old, and you agreed to pay $500 per month without getting a court order. Now the child is five, and for whatever reason, the mother decides to take you to Court to get a child support order. The Court has no record of those payments you’ve been making, so even though you’ve been paying each month, the Court could still order you to pay $18,000 for three years of back child support.

Child support is emotionally charged for every parent because it involves two important and stressful parts of life: their kids and money. Whether you’re the parent receiving or paying child support, it’s important to advocate for a fair arrangement for yourself as well as your child. No matter where you are in the child support process, our team at Oxendine Law may be able to help. Call our family law attorneys to find out your options.