Child Support Lawyer in Peachtree City and Newnan Assists Parents
Experienced attorney pursues fair results for clients in Fayette and Coweta Counties
The State of Georgia requires both parents to provide financial support their minor children. When the family does not live as a single unit, the law entitles a custodial parent to obtain an order for child support requiring the noncustodial parent to make payments on a regular basis. Most child support orders arise out of divorce proceedings, but unwed mothers can obtain orders obligating their children’s fathers if legal parentage has been established. Thomas F. Tierney, Attorney at Law represents Georgia parents on both sides of this issue. With offices in Peachtree City and Newnan, my firm takes a detailed, fact-based approach, arguing for the amount of support that is necessary and proper given the parties’ finances and the children’s needs.
Understanding the Georgia child support guidelines
Georgia operates under an “income shares” model of child support, which means that the baseline obligation is set by looking at the parents’ combined income, and dividing the child support responsibility based on each parent’s share of the total amount. Each parent discloses their total income from all sources, then deducts certain allowances, such as taxes, union dues, business expenses, and support paid for children from another relationship. The court then looks at the portion that each parent contributes to the total adjusted gross income and applies that same ratio to the support to be paid. Thus, a parent who makes 70 percent of the couple’s income would be obliged to pay 70 percent of the child support prior to adjustments authorized under the law. Remember that this initial calculation is a guideline amount for basic support. Parents might negotiate different terms and courts issue an order not based on the guidelines if warranted by the circumstances.
Factors that can justify an adjustment to the child support baseline amount
A court might adjust the guideline child support amount for a number of reasons, including:
- Health insurance — A parent who pays the premium for their son or daughter’s health insurance receives an offset from their child support obligation.
- High income — When parents are well off, a court seeks to maintain the children at the standard of living they would have enjoyed if the parents had remained married.
- Low income — If a parent’s earning capacity is too low, the court will consider possible hardship when issuing support order.
- Travel for visitation — If a parent incurs significant cost to visit their children, a court might reduce the support payment to reflect that expense.
- Mortgage payments — Courts can consider whether a parent is bearing the burden of providing a home for the children.
- Extraordinary expenses — Costs associated with a child’s special needs, or having children remain in private school might increase the total support.
- Child custody arrangements — Georgia courts generally adjust the support obligation downward for a paying parent when the child spends a greater share of nights in their home under the child custody plan.
I present the court with all pertinent information necessary to evaluate the unique circumstances of your case, so you can obtain an order that reflects the reality of your family situation.
Litigating child support in Georgia
Parents often arrive at negotiated support settlements, as part of divorce proceedings or a paternity action, sometimes referred to as legitimation. The guidelines offer objective standards to measure fairness, but don’t account for special expenses such as higher education costs and the payment needed to engage in expensive extracurricular activities. If an agreement cannot be reached, a dispute exists over reported income or if a parent cannot be located, court action becomes necessary. During this process, you can subpoena business or employment records to bolster your claim.
Enforcing and modifying child support orders
Changing circumstances often make it difficult to comply with support orders. I represent parents in actions to enforce support obligations as well as motions to modify orders when a change in income or some other relevant event justifies an adjustment.
Contact a Peachtree City family law attorney for child support representation
Thomas F. Tierney, Attorney at Law, with offices in Peachtree City and Newnan, advocates for Georgia parents in a full range of child support matters. To discuss your issue with an experienced attorney, please call 770-796-4031 or contact my office online.