Crystal Wright | September 29, 2023 | Child support
Child custody and child support are complicated legal issues. They can raise questions and worries for parents who are getting divorced or separated. Most people assume that child support is only awarded to the parent with more custody time.
In Georgia, as in many other states, the situation is more complex than it might seem. Let’s learn if child support is given when both parents share custody equally.
How Child Support Works In Georgia
Child support awards in Georgia are not just based on which parent has primary physical custody of the child. Child support may still be awarded even when parents have equal 50/50 joint custody. It often comes down to each parent’s financial situation.
The parent with less physical custody time with the child is typically considered non-custodial and may be ordered to pay child support. Yet, when both parents share equal custody, the calculation becomes more nuanced and considers their combined monthly income and expenses.
Best Interests of the Child: The Core Principle
In Georgia, as in most states, the primary consideration in child support and custody matters is the child’s best interests.
Key Points About the Best Interests of the Child
This foundational principle guides the court’s decisions and should also guide parents’ actions.
Courts focus on the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
Stability and Continuity
Maintaining stability in the child’s life, such as educational continuity and parental relationships, is typically considered in the child’s best interests.
Cooperation Between Parents
Courts often encourage parents to cooperate in their child’s best interests, including education, healthcare, and visitation decisions.
The court uses specific legal standards to evaluate what is in the child’s best interests, considering factors such as the child’s age, preferences, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and nurturing environment.
Understanding and embracing the concept of the child’s best interests can help parents make decisions that focus on their child’s needs and ensure that any legal proceedings result in genuinely beneficial outcomes for their children.
Factors Considered in Child Support Determination
Georgia courts consider various factors when deciding whether to award child support in cases of shared 50/50 custody. Considerations include:
- Monthly Income
- Monthly expenses
- Income tax deductions
- Childcare and healthcare costs,
- Daycare expenses
- The child’s specific care needs
- Insurance coverage
- The standard of living the child is accustomed to
One parent may still need to pay child support, even if they spend equal custody time.
Child Support Modifications In Georgia
Once child support is determined in a Georgia court, it’s important to understand that the order isn’t necessarily set in stone. Life circumstances can change, affecting your ability to pay or the other parent’s need for support. In such cases, child support modifications may be necessary.
Reasons for Modification
A modification may be needed if the custody arrangement itself changes. For example, if one parent goes from having 50/50 custody to becoming the primary custodian, child support may need to be adjusted.
Changes in the Child’s Needs
As your child grows, their financial needs may evolve. For instance, additional educational or medical support can justify a child support modification.
If either parent relocates, it can impact visitation and transportation costs, necessitating modification.
Passage of Time
Over time, the initial child support order needs to be updated, reviewed, and adjusted.
How To Request a Modification
To request a modification, you must prove a significant change in circumstances to the court. You need to provide documents like an income statement, medical record, or custody arrangements as evidence. It is best to contact an attorney who can help you navigate the modification process.
Can a Georgia Court Award No Child Support?
Parents in Georgia are legally responsible for helping their children financially. However, a judge may not require child support if both parents have equal income and spend equal time with their children.
Yet, if one parent’s income is higher, they may be ordered to pay child support – along with the other considerations mentioned above. That said, it may not be as much as you think. A judge may consider living expenses paid by that parent as part of the child support cost.
Consulting With a Georgia Child Support Attorney
Child support awards in Georgia are calculated following state guidelines, considering each case’s unique circumstances. To fully understand whether you may be required to pay child support when sharing 50/50 custody, consult an experienced family law attorney.
Contact the Child Support Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.