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The new child support formula

Published on: 03/16/06
Georgia is changing the way child support payments are calculated. Last year, the General Assembly passed a law saying that when the amount of child support is calculated, noncustodial parents will no longer pay a flat percentage of their incomes; instead, the income of both parents will be taken into account. It also passed a "parenting time" adjustment that would give noncustodial parents a reduction on child support if they spend a certain amount of time with their children.

That law goes into effect July 1.

This year, the Legislature is revisiting that law, debating some specifics, and adding an economic table that estimates the basic costs of raising a child. The new bill is Senate Bill 382. Though certain aspects of the bill could change, here is an outline of how to calculate child support for a noncustodial parent under the new guidelines.

"¢Step 1: Combine the monthly gross incomes of both parents. The law allows for adjustments of this figure if the parent is self-employed or has a prior child support order.


The father earns $4,000 a month. His ex-wife earns $2,000. The total monthly income is $6,000. She has custody of their two children.

"¢Step 2: Go to the economic table. Match the combined parents' gross incomes to the number of children involved.

According to the proposed table, the monthly amount needed to cover basic necessities for the two children is $1,384. This figure, called the Basic Child Support Obligation, would be divided between the parents based on the percentage of their incomes.

In this case, the father's share is $927. But that is not the final child support award.

"¢Step 3: Depending on what visitation the court orders, a Parenting Time Adjustment might apply. Under the bill, noncustodial parents who spend 121 days with their children may deduct 10 percent from their share of the Basic Child Support Obligation.

The father has the children 125 days a year, putting him in the range that qualifies him to reduce his share of the Basic Child Support Obligation by $93, bringing his share to $834.

"¢Step 4: The costs of health insurance premiums and day care costs must be added together, then prorated between the parents.

The mother is paying $600 a month in child care. The father pays $100 a month in health insurance for the children. The father's share of the additional expenses of $700 is $469. Therefore the father's total child support obligation is $1,303.

"¢Step 5: The judge may adjust that amount by allowing for special expenses, such as summer camp, tennis lessons, clubs and baseball uniforms. These also would be divided between the parents.

The father and mother are not factoring in these costs.

The father's payment of $100 a month for the children's health insurance will be subtracted from his share, making his final child support award $1,203 a month.

For more information, see the Web site for the Georgia Child Support Commission: