How will the Court determine child support?

The Court uses a child support calculator to determine the amount of child support to be paid in a divorce, legitimation or other domestic relations matters involving children. Here is a link to the child support calculator in Georgia.

In a basic sense, the child support calculator revolves around the “gross” income of each parent. Gross income is the amount of money you are paid BEFORE taxes and other deductions are taken out.

The Court will first determine each party’s income by looking at paystubs and tax returns. Often people receive bonuses, overtime or other income on top of their base pay. Most people who receive bonuses complain that those are not guaranteed. Typically, in my experience, the Judge will look to what your gross income was for the previous year and use that number as a guide. 

What if a spouse is lazy and won’t work hard? The Court can input income in cases where there is not good evidence of income, such as a person who is self employed, especially in a cash business. If there is no income, typically the Court will at least input minimum wage to that parent. If a parent quits a good job right before the divorce to avoid paying child support, the Court may act as if that is what you have the ability to earn.

Once the Court determine gross income of each parent, the calculator will add this income up for a gross amount. For example, if Dad makes $5,000.00 a month and Mom makes $5,000.00 a month, as a family they make $10,000.00 a month. The calculator will then provide a child support number based on the number of children. For two (2) children the total amount would be $1,749.00. This will be divided equally between the parents as they make the same amount, for a base payment of $875.00. If one parent makes more than the other the Court will use a ratio of their income. So if Mom makes $7,000.00 a month and Dad makes $3,000.00 a month, the ratio would be 70 percent of the family income is earned by Mom, so she would pay 70 percent of the $1,749.00, or $1,224.00 per month.

Other factors include daycare costs and medical insurance costs, which are divide by the same ratio of incomes. As child support will be a considerable expense until your child graduates high school, it is important to have a good attorney make sure that the child support number is fair based on the complicated factors in the calculator.