In Douglas County, Georgia, both parents are obligated to contribute to their children’s financial well-being, regardless of the parents’ relationship status. Accordingly, if you and your child’s other parent are divorced or otherwise separated, you may be entitled to child support or be required to pay it.
The amount of child support ordered in a case in Douglas County, GA, can substantially impact your financial circumstances, and this process should be taken seriously. An experienced Douglas County child support attorney can help you navigate this process and fight for you to receive a fair outcome.
How Bardley McKnight Law Can Help with Child Support in Douglas County, GA
Calculating child support is complex, and it directly impacts the financial well-being of the parties involved. Our highly skilled Douglas County child support lawyers have 40 years of combined experience in family law.
When you hire an attorney from Bardley McKnight Law, we’ll do the following to help you get a reasonable child support order in your case:
- Make sure your income information is accurate so it will be accurately considered in the child support order
- Help you identify and document any issues that should be considered when calculating child support
- Help modify child support if needed when there’s been a change in circumstances
- Help document your ex’s income accurately if you believe they’re being dishonest
- Protect your rights and interests throughout the child support proceedings
Georgia courts use child support guidelines to calculate the precise amount of child support. However, it’s essential that they have proper information to consider. Further, a deviation from the guidelines is sometimes warranted. Our skilled Douglas County child support attorneys will seek a child support order in your case that is fair and adequately provides for the child.
To learn more about how we can help with your child support case in Douglas County, GA, contact our office today.
Overview of Child Support in Georgia
In Georgia, both parents have an obligation to financially provide for their children. Courts can award child support from a non-custodial parent following a divorce or at the request of a single parent. A superior court judge will consider the needs of the child and both parents’ financial resources in assessing an appropriate child support order.
In Georgia, child support will ordinarily end at age 18, though it may be extended or end early in some situations. For example, if the child is emancipated before age 18, the child support obligation will terminate early. In addition, support may be extended until age 20 if the child is in secondary education.
After the court enters a child support order, the Georgia’s Division of Child Support Services will open a case. The Division manages the collection, distribution, and enforcement of child support orders and reviews petitions for modification.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Douglas County, GA?
The court will follow Georgia law and calculate the amount of child support using the child support calculator or worksheet. The financial information of each parent will be entered into this form, which will generate a presumptive amount of child support. However, the court may deviate from this amount.
The child support worksheet will reflect each party’s income, including wages, salary, disability benefits, self-employment earnings, and other income. If there is no reliable evidence of income, the court may impute a reasonable amount of income for a party based on other considerations.
What Are Child Support Deviations?
The court can deviate above or below the child support worksheet in some circumstances. For example, if the amount of support would be insufficient, given the needs of the child, the court can deviate above the presumptive amount. Likewise, the court can deviate below the presumptive amount if this would be unfair or cause hardship to the parent based on their financial circumstances.
There are two types of deviations in Georgia: mandatory deviations and non-mandatory deviations.
The court must consider mandatory deviations in the child support calculation. There are two types of mandatory deviations that the court must consider:
- Work-Related Child Care Expenses. These include expenses that are necessarily incurred for the parent to be able to pursue education, training, or employment.
- Health Insurance Premiums. One parent usually pays these for the child, and the court considers this.
Based on these considerations, the child support amount may increase or decrease.
The court may consider several non-mandatory deviations, but they are not required to include these in the child support order.
Non-mandatory deviations include:
- Parenting time. The court may consider how much time the parent spends with the child.
- High or low income. The court may consider if the parent has a particularly low or high income.
- Travel expenses. The court may consider substantial or extraordinary expenses one parent occurs to see the child, such as if they must travel from out of state.
- Private school. The court may consider the cost of private school education paid for by one or both of the parents.
- Mortgage. In some cases, the court may consider if the non-custodial parent pays for the home that the custodial parent and child live in.
- Extracurricular expenses. The court may consider the amount of money spent on a child’s activities.
- Alimony payments. The court may consider the amount being paid to the spouse in support.
In addition, the court may consider other extraordinary expenses of one of the parents. However, the court is not required to incorporate any of these non-mandatory deviations into the child-support calculation.
What Happens if a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support in Douglas County, GA?
Georgia takes nonpayment of child support seriously. If you are entitled to child support and the non-custodial parent has not been paying, there are steps you can take to collect it. An experienced Douglas County child support attorney can help you take action to make the other parent pay.
The penalties for not paying child support in Georgia include:
- Contempt. The court may find the non-paying party in contempt and order them to pay child support.
- Wage Garnishment. The non-paying parent may have the child support automatically taken from their paycheck.
- Driver’s License Revocation. If the non-paying parent continues to not pay child support, they could have their driver’s license revoked.
- Jail time. In extreme cases, the court can order jail time for someone who continues to violate the court’s child support orders.
If you are a parent who is struggling to pay a child support order, there may be defenses you can raise to avoid these penalties. A skilled Douglas County child support lawyer can help you through this process and help you get a child support order that you can afford.
Can Child Support Be Modified in Georgia?
In Georgia, either party may petition the court for modification of a child support order. Inevitably, the circumstances of one of the parents may change, and a child support order may no longer be appropriate based on the changed circumstances. For example, if a parent loses their job or moves to a new area, the child support order may need to be changed.
A petition to change a child support order must show either a change in the financial status of one of the parents or a change in the child’s needs. The changes must be significant enough to impact the parent’s ability to pay or show that the change in the child’s needs is long-term. For example, if you change jobs but your salary remains largely the same, this would not be grounds to modify a child support order.
Keep in mind that Georgia has a two-year rule regarding modifying child support orders. Under this rule, child support orders usually cannot be modified within two years of a previous modification. However, there are some exceptions, such as if one parent loses their job involuntarily, gets remarried, or if there is a significant change in parenting time.
Contact a Douglas County Child Support Lawyer for Help With Your Case
Whether you pay or receive child support, the amount of a child support order will have a significant impact on your financial circumstances. If you are dealing with a difficult child support situation in Douglas County, GA, Bardley McKnight Law is here for you. These challenging times may include a non-paying parent, an unreasonable order, or a change in circumstances. When this happens, consider reaching out to one of our experienced Douglas County child support lawyers.
Even if you are dealing with a relatively straightforward child support issue, it can seem overwhelming. Our attorneys can guide you through this process and ensure that your child’s best interests are protected throughout.
Contact our office today to speak with one of our exceptional Douglas County child support attorneys in Douglas County, GA.