Aaron Thomas Law Blog

Calculating Child Support

Under Georgia law, each parent has a duty to financially support his or her children. This post explains the basics on how child support is calculated in Georgia.

In Georgia, child support is calculated by using a formula based on each parent’s income. You can estimate child support by entering both parents’ incomes into Georgia’s Child Support Worksheets. The worksheets use the total income of both parents to determine a Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO). The BCSO is then divided between the parents in proportion to their income. For a simplistic example, if the wife makes $6,000 monthly and the husband earns $4,000, then their total income is $10,000. If this couple has one child, then the BCSO would be $1,259. This child support obligation would be split between the parents in proportion to their income. The husband earns 40% of their total income, and would be responsible for 40% of the BCSO, or $503.60. The Wife would be responsible for 60% of the BCSO, or $755.40. The noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent.

Many other things, however, can factor into the child support calculation. The parent who pays for the child’s health insurance gets a credit for the amount of the insurance premium attributable to the child. This is usually calculated by determining what that parent’s health insurance would cost without any dependents, and then subtracting that from the total amount of health insurance the parent pays with the child included. There is a spot to enter health insurance costs on Schedule D of the child support worksheet.

You can also enter childcare costs paid by either parent on Schedule D of the child support worksheet. The childcare costs are added to the BSCO, and divided proportionally between the parents. Childcare costs include amounts paid during the school year, during school breaks, and during the summer. If a child is in pre-school or has additional childcare due to a disability, you can also enter those costs on Schedule D. The child support amount calculated by the worksheet after including the health insurance costs and childcare costs is called the “presumptive amount of child support.”

In many cases, the final child support amount will be the presumptive amount of child support. There are, however, other costs that can be factored into child support depending on each family’s circumstances. Georgia allows parents to deviate from the presumptive amount of child support to account for private school costs. If a child has extraordinary medical, psychological, or educational costs, the court may factor those into child support as well (you can enter these expenses on Schedule E of the child support worksheet). If the noncustodial parent has a significant amount of custodial time, as in 50/50 custody splits, the noncustodial parent can request a decrease in child support. In other cases, the parents may factor in regularly recurring costs such as music lessons, sports costs, or other extracurriculars. If the parents have very high incomes, typically viewed as over $30,000 combined per month, child support may be increased. Courts don’t give child support deviations automatically; it’s best to speak with a family law attorney to help you come up with a plan to calculate child support.