Child Support Updates 2018

As of July 1, 2018, there will be new considerations to the Child Support Guidelines in Georgia per the Child Support Commission's legislation this year. Below, I have rendered the basics from a memo sent by Judge R. Michael Key, Chair of the Commission. An announcement by Commission staff on their website should be out soon. In the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to get this information circulating.

The changes are:

  1. Rather than requiring parties file multiple worksheets for multiple children, the update makes it permissible.
  2. There is now a two-year time limit on the anticipated change in age of the child(ren). For example, if you have children who are 12, 14 and 16, and the 16 year old will turn 18 and is expected to graduate within two years, parents may file two worksheets – one for three children, and one for two children that will take effect upon the oldest child’s ineligibility to receive support.
  3. The ability of the non-custodial parent to pay the amount of child support awarded shall be taken into account. Further, the court shall consider the basic sustenance needs of the parents and the child for whom support is to be provided.
  4. Previously, when there was a failure to produce reliable evidence of income, it was required that a 40-hour work week at minimum wage be imputed. The new law says “…gross income for the current year may be imputed.”

Further, it says “When imputing income, the court shall take into account the specific circumstances of the parent to the extent known, including such factors as the parent’s assets, residence, employment and earnings history, job skills, educational attainment, literacy, age, health, criminal record and other employment barriers, and record of seeking work, as well as the local job market, the availability of employers willing to hire the parent, prevailing earnings level in the local community, and other relevant background factors in the case.  If a parent is incarcerated, the court shall not assume an ability for earning capacity based upon pre-incarceration wages or other employment related income, but income may be imputed based upon the actual income and assets available to such incarcerated parent.”

Further still, “A determination of willful or voluntary unemployment or underemployment shall not be made when an individual’s incarceration prevents employment.”

5. Medicaid or PeachCare are now permissible to be used to satisfy the requirement to provide for the child’s health care needs.

6. When it comes to deviations, instead “primary consideration” being given to the best interest of the child, the word “primary” has been removed and consideration should also be given to the non-custodial parents ability or inability to pay the presumptive amount. Their basic subsistence needs and reasonable expenses that are actually paid may be considered.

7. Lastly, the words “becomes incarcerated” are added to instances where there is a loss of income.