BOON FOR SOME, BANE FOR OTHERS !
By Vic Brown Hill
For many years, there has been talk of changing Georgia's child support laws. The push for change came mainly from father's advocacy groups that felt the original guidelines placed an unfair financial burden on the non-custodial parent — usually the father.
A new child support law went into effect in Georgia on January 1, 2007. The new child support law, codified at O.C.G.A. 19-6-15, dramatically changes the way that child support is determined and allocated between the parents in Georgia. There are many technical changes — too many to discuss here. Under the former guidelines, only the income of the non-custodial parent was considered. Under the new guidelines, both parents' incomes are included in the child support calculation. That is the major change.
How does that work? The Court determines the monthly gross income of both parents and compares that number to a table of support values contained in the statute. From the table, the Court extracts the total support amount. That amount may be adjusted upward or downward to include various child-related expenses. The adjusted figure is then allocated between the parents based upon their respective incomes.
What does that mean? It means that the parent with the lower income is responsible for paying less of the child's overall support than the other parent. In some situations, it results in the non-custodial parent paying less — maybe a lot less — support to the custodial parent.
For non-custodial parents (usually fathers) who pay high child support, the new law is an opportunity to pay less money. If the non-custodial parent can show a change of financial circumstances in order to bring the matter before the Court, the application of the new guidelines is likely to result in a lower child support obligation. The corollary to that is that the custodial parents (usually mothers) are in peril of losing much of the support that they depend upon to raise the children.
Fathers' advocacy groups consider the new statute a needed advancement in the law. Women's advocacy groups see the new law as being anti-woman and anti-mother.
Whether the new guideline law will help you or hurt you depends upon the particular facts of your case. If you are concerned about the child support you pay or collect, you should consult with an attorney to analyze your facts in the light of the new law.
Vic Brown Hill is a trial attorney in Marietta, Georgia. His practice is limited to divorce and other matters of family law. Mr. Hill is a member of the State Bar of Georgia (including its Family Law Section), the Cobb County Bar Association (including its Family Law Section), Phi Delta Phi and other professional and civic organizations. Mr. Hill and his family are residents of Cobb County.