WHAT GETS DECIDED IN DIVORCE – CHILD SUPPORT

Every divorcing couple has the option of discussing, negotiating and resolving all of the issues in their divorce before they ever go to court. They can do this themselves or with the help of legal, financial, and counseling professionals.

Working to resolve these issues outside of the court system results in an “uncontested divorce.” An uncontested divorce allows couples to resolve issues in a non-adversarial, non-court driven process and then simply “notify” the court of their agreement by filing the required divorce paperwork.  The court will then grant them a divorce.  For couples who cannot reach a negotiated or uncontested settlement of their divorce issues, filing for divorce will set in motion the process for allowing a judge to decide these issues.

Whether you have decided to work toward an “uncontested divorce” or find yourself headed down the road of a contested, also known as a litigated, divorce you should understand what the court will have the power to decide and how those decisions will be made.  This knowledge will give you the power to negotiate a fair resolution.

CHILD SUPPORT – THE COURT LOOKS AT THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN

Child support must be calculated in every divorce involving minor children. This is true whether your case has already been filed with the court or if you and your spouse are working on an amicable settlement outside of court.  The way child support is calculated in Georgia is by completing the Georgia Child Support Worksheet. You can see the Georgia Child Support Worksheet and guidelines here.

The completed child support worksheet will calculate a basic amount of child support that should be paid by one spouse to the other. This basic amount can be modified by the court or the parties as provided in the deviation sections of the worksheet. Any modifications are based on certain factors such as, the best interest of the child or children for whom the support is being considered, the circumstances of the parents; the substantive reasons for deviation, and/or to achieve the state policy of affording to children of unmarried parents, to the extent possible, the same economic standard of living enjoyed by children living in intact families.

Child support continues until a child turns 18 and can continue until a child turns 20. Georgia law requires parents to support a child until the child reaches the age of majority (18), dies, marries, or becomes emancipated, whichever occurs first. Sometimes a child might need additional support beyond the age of 18, and the law allows the court to order either or both parents to provide financial assistance to a child who has not previously married or become emancipated, who is enrolled in and attending a secondary school, and who has attained the age of majority before completing his or her secondary school education, provided that such financial assistance shall not be required after a child attains 20 years of age.

Georgia law does not require parents to pay for a child’s college expenses, and a judge will not order one or both parents to do so in a divorce proceeding. Couples can, however, include in a negotiated settlement agreement a plan for paying for college and the court will accept that agreement as part of an uncontested divorce.

For advice about how calculation of child support might apply in your divorce we suggest you contact an Atlanta attorney who can address your situation.