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Georgia child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Georgia child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Georgia child support determined?

In Georgia, both parents are liable for the support of their minor children. Therefore, the court may order child support from either parent, based on the child’s needs and the parents’ ability to pay. There are specific Georgia Child Support Guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to determine the amount of child support.

These guidelines will be followed, unless there is an agreement by the parents as to an amount of child support considered fair and reasonable by the court, or there are any other extraordinary, relevant factors.  The court may use its discretion to vary the final child support order by considering the following factors:

  • ages of the children
  • educational costs
  • extraordinary medical expenses
  • day care costs
  • shared physical custody
  • support obligation to another household
  • income that should be imputed to a party due to the suppression of income
  • extreme economic circumstances including an unusually high or low debt structure
  • extraordinary travel expenses to exercise visitation or shared physical custody
  • historical spending in the family for children which varies significantly from the percentage table
  • in kind contribution of either parent
  • income of the custodial parent

The following percentages of the gross income of the paying parent are what the Georgia child support guidelines are generally based on:

  • 1 child 17 - 23%
  • 2 children 23 - 28%
  • 3 children 25 - 32%
  • 4 children 29 - 35%
  • 5 or more children 31 - 37%

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, is removed from disability status by a court order, or the child dies.

Georgia's custody guidelines:

Yes. The Georgia courts, based on the best interests of the child and the following considerations may award joint or sole custody:

  • the wishes of the child, if the child is of an appropriate age/maturity
  • the safety of the child
  • any history of domestic abuse

When there is a history of domestic abuse, the Georgia courts presume joint custody should not be awarded to the abusive patent.

Georgia's medical insurance guidelines:

Particularly in recent cases, the determination of which parent will provide medical insurance and pay medical bills is included in the marital settlement agreement.  However, in the absence of such an agreement, the court will determine which parent will provide medical insurance. Such a determination will be based on whether or not the parent has medical insurance reasonably available through his or her employment or union.

How permanent are the provisions for Georgia child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.  A modification requires a specific change in circumstances.

While orders concerning the children may be modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Georgia like most states, has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

How does joint custody work?

The current thinking or national trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan for divorcing parents.

While it is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

But remember, when there is a history of domestic abuse, the Georgia courts prefer not to award joint custody.

How Georgia determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the
nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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