If you are wondering “Is child support mandatory in Georgia?” you’re not alone – this is a common question for parents who are divorcing or going through a separation.
The short answer is yes, child support is mandatory in Georgia, underlining the state’s commitment to ensuring the welfare of children involved in such circumstances.
In fact, if you fail to support your child by law, you could be convicted of a crime, or lose your parental rights to your child – even if you do not have a court order that says “pay X dollars amount of child support per month”.
This article will delve into this topic further and shed light on the specifics of Georgia’s child support laws, including whether child support is optional and what the current law says in 2023.
Is Child Support Optional in Georgia?
While the term ‘optional’ might suggest a degree of flexibility, when it comes to child support in Georgia, there is no room for choice.
Parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their minor children, regardless of whether they have primary custody.
This financial responsibility continues until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.
Under Georgia law, both parents’ incomes are considered in determining the amount of child support.
The state uses an “Income Shares Model”, which means that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents lived together.
If parents make about the same income, share equally in other expenses for their child (such as clothes, schooling, extracurriculares, etc.) and have a 50/50 physical custody living arrangement, then it is possible for the parents to call it “even” in a court order, and not have either parent pay the other one for child support each month – since the child is being cared for regardless.
However, that does not make it “optional” as both parents are required by law to care, provide for, clothe, feed, and otherwise take care of their child financially when in their care – or in the other parent’s care, if the other parent has the child most of the time.
What is the Child Support Law in Georgia 2023?
As of 2023, the child support law in Georgia remains committed to safeguarding the best interests of the child.
The law mandates that both parents share in the cost of raising their children in proportion to their incomes.
It includes provisions for insurance, medical expenses and child care costs.
The Georgia Child Support Commission promulgates the guidelines for calculating child support, found in O.C.G.A. Section 19-6-15.
These guidelines consider factors like each parent’s income, the number of children, the cost of health insurance, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.
If there are significant changes in circumstances, such as a substantial increase or decrease in either parent’s income, the child support order can be modified.
However, this requires a legal process and is not automatically granted. Also, it can only be brought every two years – unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Below is the official Georgia child support website to access the child support caculator. This is a great tool to help you determine what each parents child support liability will be.
Child support is indeed mandatory in Georgia. It is not optional, and the laws governing it are designed to protect the best interests of the child, ensuring they receive adequate financial support from both parents.
Understanding these laws can help parents navigate the complexities of child support and ensure compliance with their legal obligations.
If you have further questions or need assistance with child support matters, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced child support attorney in your local area, to evaluate your specific needs.