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Deviations In Georgia Child Support Determinations


In most Georgia divorce cases, the method for calculating child support will be the Georgia Child Support Guidelines, which can at least give a couple (or a court) a beginning point to use in reaching a fair sum. However, since 2007, state law has allowed for what are called “deviations” – factors that a court may  take into account when trying to calculate an amount that is fair to both the custodial and noncustodial parent and ultimately serves the best interests of the minor child or children. The parenting time deviation is one of the most commonly seen, given that the overwhelming majority of parents want to be involved in their children’s lives.

Mandatory & Non-Mandatory

The state child support guidelines are, in general, meant to help establish a starting point for child support amounts in divorce cases. However, Georgia law allows deviation from the guidelines – that is, they are not set in stone – for a variety of different costs that parents might incur, as well as for factors that affect the best interests of the child or children involved. There are mandatory deviations, such as those required by law for child care costs or the cost of health insurance premiums, and there are non-mandatory deviations, which are solely up to the court’s discretion in terms of whether or not to grant them.

The list of possible non-mandatory deviations from the guidelines are extensive, including life insurance purchases, “extraordinary educational expenses” made by either parent, and the earned income tax credit. A judge or jury can choose to factor these into calculations of child support, but the guiding principle must be the best interests of the child above all else – in other words, if granting a non-mandatory deviation would impact the best interests of the child, the court will choose not to grant it.

Parenting Time Deviation Is Somewhat Unique

Unlike many other types of deviations from the child support guidelines, the parenting time deviation has a few specific rules, which can make it very confusing. For example, the parenting time deviation is one of the few that can only be made in favor of the non-custodial parent – in other words, only the non-custodial parent can make the argument that they should pay less child support based on parenting time, because they are the only one paying support.

The parenting time deviation is meant to be granted if requiring the noncustodial parent to pay the child support guidelines’ recommended amount of support would be either “excessive or inadequate” to serve the best interests of the child. It will not be granted if giving the noncustodial parent a break, so to speak, would impair the custodial parent’s ability to provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. Deviations are intended to address imbalances in parents’ respective incomes and financial futures.  Therefore, a court will generally not employ them to further any divide rather than bridge it.

Contact A Georgia Family Lawyer

Child support is meant to provide a good quality of life for a divorced couple’s children, but one size does not fit all, and Georgia law has foreseen that. If you have questions or concerns about child support, contacting an experienced Atlanta child support attorney at Buckhead Family Law can be a great help, and we will do our very best to work with you and get you the answers you seek. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.



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