Parents are legally obligated to support their children financially until their children become emancipated. The obligation does not end when the parents divorce or separate. Even when the parents were never married, each parent is expected to provide financially for their child.

Georgia has child support guidelines that determine how much each parent should pay for child support. The guidelines do not tell parents how to use child support payments. However, the parent receiving child support payments is expected to use the money for the benefit and needs of the child.

What Does Georgia Child Support Cover?

The expenses and costs related to child rearing depend on several factors, including the child’s age and specific needs. For example, some children might require special diets or education. Other children might have more expensive extracurricular activities.

Child support obligations or basic support payments are intended to assist the custodial parent pay for basic necessities for the child. Examples of a child’s basic needs that would be covered by child support include:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Medical care
  • Child care
  • Education 
  • Special needs

Child support may also be used to pay for a child’s extracurricular activities. Typically, these activities enhance a child’s social, physical, or cultural development. They can include sports, clubs, fine arts lessons, summer camp, and other activities. 

Even though the custodial parent decides how to use child support payments, they need to be cautious. Keeping a log of payments and items for your child can help you avoid allegations of misusing child support payments. 

If you make child support payments, monitor how much you spend on your child’s basic needs. Signs that your ex-partner might be misusing child support payments include your child’s lack of clothing or other necessary items notwithstanding your support.

When Can You Stop Paying Child Support Payments in Georgia?

A parent has a legal obligation to support their child financially until emancipation. Emancipation generally occurs when:

  • The child turns 18 years old or finishes high school (up until 20 years old)
  • Joins a branch of the military service
  • Gets married 
  • The court ordered emancipation 

Child support also ends if the obligated parent obtains legal custody of the child or dies. Stopping child support payments could result in the following:

  • Driver’s license suspension 
  • Wage garnishment
  • Court contempt charges
  • Jail time 

Visit our Divorce FAQ page to learn more or If you have questions about when to stop paying child support payments, it is best to speak with a Lawrenceville child support lawyer.

How Does the Court Determine the Amount of Child Support Payments?

Georgia has child support guidelines that determine how much parents should contribute financially for their child’s basic needs. The Georgia Division of Child Support Services tracks child support payments. 

Both parents are obligated to support their children financially, regardless of a custody arrangement. However, the custody arrangement can impact child custody payments.

The child support guidelines create a presumptive amount of child support. Child support calculations are based on the parents’ adjusted monthly gross income. However, the court can deviate from the presumptive amount of child support for specific reasons.

Deviations From Standard Child Support Guidelines

Each family and situation is unique. Likewise, the needs of a child might vary from the basic standards included in the child support guidelines. Therefore, support deviations allow judges to modify the presumptive amount to increase or decrease the amount of child support payments. 

Work-related childcare expenses and health insurance premiums are mandatory deviations that judges must consider when ordering child support payments. Other deviations that judges might consider in their discretion include, but are not limited to:

  • The amount of parenting time a parent spends with a child
  • Travel expenses a parent incurs when exercising court-ordered visitation
  • Private school tuition 
  • High or low-income situations
  • The cost of extracurricular activities
  • Life insurance premiums 
  • The cost of extraordinary expenses 
  • A child’s special needs
  • Mortgage payments 
  • The amount of spousal support payments 

Parents may agree on how to divide costs or what costs should be included in the child support calculations. However, agreements between parents regarding child support are always reviewed by the judge. The judge determines whether the agreement is in the best interest of the child and meets the standards for child support payments in Georgia. 

Can I Modify the Amount of Child Support I Am Required To Pay?

Courts only modify child support orders for a substantial change in circumstances. Examples of a change in circumstances that could result in lowering your child support obligation include:

  • You lost your job
  • Retirement
  • Disability
  • Had another child
  • Had a significant change in income
  • Relocation 
  • Have another dependent
  • Remarriage 

A Lawrenceville family law attorney can review your current situation and child support obligation and advise whether the court might modify the child support payments to lower or increase the amount. 

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 page. You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.