McGuire & Bullard’s Legislative Child Support Update 2018

On July 1, 2018, various legislative changes to Georgia’s Child Support laws took effect. Whether you are someone who pays child support or receives it, these changes can directly affect you and your family. Listed below are important legislative changes to Georgia child support that you should know about:

  1. PROACTIVE CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATIONS FOR INELIGIBLE CHILDREN

Georgia law now states that if a child becomes ineligible for child support within a two year period of the final order, the court may allow for the use of separate worksheets to show the amount to be paid for all children AND the amount to be paid as each child becomes ineligible to receive support. For example, if a child support action involves a family of two children ages 17 and 5, the court may allow separate worksheets to be created. One worksheet would show the amount of child support owed to all children, while the other would show the amount owed for just the 5-year-old. Once the oldest child becomes ineligible, the amount owed is automatically reduced based on the youngest child’s worksheet. Multiple worksheets will prevent the payor from overpaying child support or the requirement to seek a modification and expend costs on an attorney solely due to an ineligible child.

  1. IMPUTED INCOME

Before July 1, 2018, if a parent failed to produce reliable evidence of income the court was required to impute that parent’s income based on a 40-hour work week at minimum wage. Now Georgia law states that the income of that parent may be imputed. This change gives the court more discretion when determining each parent’s income. This means, if no valid evidence of income is presented, a court could find a parent’s income to be below minimum wage or well above it, given the specific testimony and evidence in each case. The new law also gives a new set of factors for the court to consider in making this determination, including the parent’s assets, residence, employment and earnings history, job skills, educational attainment, criminal record and other employment barriers.

  1. ABILITY TO PAY

Georgia law now requires the Court to consider the payor’s ability to pay the amount of child support the worksheet presumes a parent should be paying. Before July 1, 2018, most Courts only took into consideration pre-existing child support orders and did not consider the payor’s ability to care for him or herself. The new law requires the Court to take into consideration the payor’s basic needs to care for himself and determine if the presumptive child support amount would be a hardship on that parent.

  1. INCARCERATED PARENTS

Before July 1, 2018, a court could determine an incarcerated parent’s income by considering the parent’s earning capacity based on the types of job and wages the parent had pre-incarceration. Georgia’s new law no longer allows this. Now the incarcerated parent’s income is imputed based upon the actual income and assets available to such incarcerated parent. Additionally, it is no longer valid for a court to label incarceration as willful or voluntary unemployment or underemployment. These changes are favorable to the incarcerated parent.

As you can see, the changes to Georgia’s child support law provide a more considerable amount of discretion to the court to determine your child support. This necessitates the engagement of an experienced attorney to formulate a well-crafted child support argument on your behalf. For questions about these legislative updates or to schedule a consultation regarding your child support case, please contact the Law Offices of McGuire & Bullard firm today at 678-432-1100 or by email at info@mcguirebullard.com. Our firm has the knowledge and resources to assist you and your unique needs.

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