Child Support and Child Custody Lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia
Although two separate legal issues, child support and child custody are often considered together because of how the decisions coincide in court. The judge will consider the arrangement that suits your child’s best interest in both instances.
A.B. Olmos & Associates, P.C. provides guidance to resolve child custody and child support matters. Our family law firm has dedicated child custody lawyers and child support attorneys ready to assist you in understanding your rights and legal options. When significant changes for custody or support occur, we’re here to help.
There are two main areas of custody: (1) physical and (2) legal custody. Physical custody refers to the time the child will share with each parent, while legal custody pertains to who will make major decisions on behalf of the child.
Physical custody focuses on what everyday life looks like after divorce, determining where the child will live, who will care for them on a daily basis, and the other parent’s parenting time.
In many custody cases, the child will have a primary residence where they spend the majority of their time. However, depending on your family dynamic, a custody arrangement must suit your family and children’s best interests. Multiple factors are considered when designing your family’s parenting plan for child custody.
Please consider the following when contemplating custody.
During your consultation, we will review and discuss custody options as they relate to your individual situation to determine which are viable.
The final custody order will determine the amount of time the minor will spend with an individual parent. Georgia does not have a legislative mandate on a required amount of parenting time for either parent, so the time in which a parent has physical custody can vary.
For specific information about the various structures of physical custody, we recommend speaking to our family law attorney who will work with you to determine the best course of action for your family.
Legal custody of a minor refers to how divorced parents make child-related decisions. There could be one parent designated for legal custody or the parties may share joint legal custody.
Joint legal custody allows both parents to have a voice in the decisions related to the child and it is preferred in the majority of cases.
Within legal custody, parents have the authority to decide on these matters:
Generally, there is one final decision maker. The person with primary custody will generally be that choice. However, the court, in exercising discretion, may assign each party different areas of decision making authority. The parties are required to discuss and confer these issues. If an impasse occurs, the parent with tie-breaking authority in that particular area may exercise the right to finalize the decision.
According to O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3, “it is the express policy of this state to encourage that a child has continuing contact with parents and grandparents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their child after such parents have separated or dissolved their marriage or relationship.”
Child support is a parent’s financial responsibility to the child. Georgia follows the Income Shares Model to calculate child support, taking into account each party’s income to calculate the amount of support the noncustodial parent will pay. The goal is for the child to maintain as similar of a lifestyle as when the parents were still living together.
Calculating Child Support
The child support figure comes from sharing the estimated cost of raising the child(ren), then adjusting the payments based on the income of each parent and a number of other factors.
The official itemized online child support calculator provided by the Georgia Commission on Child Support can be found here. This is the online version of the Georgia Child Support Worksheet. While calculating child support can be done without a lawyer, we recommend speaking to one of our attorneys to ensure the best results. Your lawyer will often know deviations you can qualify for that aren’t well-known to an individual without legal experience. Our law firm has helped many clients in their child support cases.
The court considers each parent’s gross income to determine how much child support the non-custodial parent will pay.
The Division of Child Support Services references O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15 in their determination of support, deviations or contributions considered, and duration of payments.
At the time of calculating the monthly child support, the court may depart from the amount calculated on the child support worksheet with a deviation. The deviation may increase or decrease the presumptive child support amount. Mandatory deviations include work-related childcare expenses and health insurance premiums. There are also a number of non-mandatory deviations.
Reasons for deviations can include, but are not limited to, the non-custodial parent having equal or almost equal time as the custodial parent. Deviations may also occur for education, medical or extracurricular bills, such as sports or summer camp.
The court has the discretion to consider deviations for high or low incomes, other health-related insurance, life insurance, alimony, mortgage, extraordinary expenses, parenting time and non-specific deviations. If there is a court-ordered deviation, the reasons must be in writing on the child support worksheet and addendum.
Handling Child Support Payments & Failure to Pay
As long as child support is required, it is recommended that individuals use methods of payment for child support that are easy to track, and avoid cash child support payments.
If there are issues with payments arriving on time, the custodial parent can request the child support payments be deducted from the other party’s paycheck.
If there is a willful failure to pay, the individual may be subject to a contempt action resulting in sanctions. These penalties include fines, jail time or license suspension.
Learn More About Custody and Child Support
Custody and child support are complex legal matters. The court expects you and your ex-spouse to co-parent under the court’s order and, as time goes on, your child’s needs will change. Your parenting plan or child support order may need to be modified. The attorneys at A.B. Olmos & Associates, P.C. will assist you throughout this process, so you fully understand the possible outcomes.
Many families in the metro Atlanta area come to us for advice and representation. Call our child custody and child support attorneys at 678-683-8500 or fill out our online contact form for help getting started.