Divorce, child support, and child custody proceedings can be an emotionally fraught and financially confusing minefield to navigate.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to gather all of the information you can. This will allow you to not only make informed decisions but will help give you an anchor and distract you from the more ephemeral difficulties inherent to such a charged situation.
We can help you figure out not only the GA child support calculator, but also the custody laws and all of the other pitfalls you may come across during these difficult times.
What Is a GA Child Support Calculator?
Every state calculates child support differently, based off local laws and needs.
If you live in Georgia, there are a few child support calculators online that should be able to help you. There’s the more official child support calculator at the Georgia Courts website, or just quick and easy child support calculators available on sites like Alllaw.com.
The basic premise is that you enter all of your information in, both financial and familial, and the program then tells you what you (or what your spouse, or the child’s other parent) would be reasonably expected to pay.
So, before we begin, make sure you have all the relevant information regarding your status, the child’s status, and the status of either the mother or father.
Also, remember this disclaimer: most of these calculations are estimates based off both the given information and the average child support of previous, similar cases. It is well within a Judge or court’s purview to alter the amount of child support based on a case-by-case scenario, so don’t think of any of these numbers as “etched in stone.”
All Law GA Child Support Calculator
The GA child support calculator at All Law is extremely easy to use and phrases the entire process as a questionnaire with easy-to-use dropdown boxes.
First, visit the website. Then, you’ll be given your options: it will start with one question and then expand in real time. Enter your relationship to the child, then with whom the children are currently living. Then the primary care giver, how you’ll be paying the legal fees of a lawyer, and your zip code for finding a defense attorney.
You’ll proceed downward until finished. After the questionnaire, you’ll see the Georgia Child Support Calculator proper beneath it. There you’ll enter the gross monthly income of the non-custodial parent: this is the parent that the children are NOT staying with, the same parent who does not have primary custody.
Then you’ll enter the number of children involved in the pending legal action, the cost of the family’s health insurance, and the person paying for the insurance.
The insurance field is important, because if the father is the one who will be paying child support payments, and they’re the one who is paying for health insurance for the whole family, that will factor into child support (and will in fact subtract from the payments to some extent). After all, providing for the health of the family is a form of child support.
When all of that information is entered, you simply hit the “Calculate” button at the bottom and receive your estimate.
Georgia Courts Child Support Calculator
The GA child support calculator for the Georgia Courts is a little more complicated, but it may be worth the effort because the answer is going to be more in-depth and accurate.
Your first step is to check out their tutorial, which has helpful videos that will guide you through the process.
The benefit of the official GA child support calculator is that it’s not just theoretical – it actually takes you through the entire process and even provides all of the documentation and worksheets you’ll need to begin the process.
Their “Getting Started” page is also a wonderful starting point, no surprise, and it will help you set up a new user account. It will also walk you through all of the acronyms and nomenclature, so you don’t get baffled by the legalese you’re bound to run into during this whole process.
For even more advanced information, you can attend a scheduled training class with legal professionals who can answer all of your questions. They’ll talk about the current state of the law, which can save you from working with outdated information. They’ll also discuss upcoming law changes, and keep you informed on the child support process, how to navigate it, and how to file your taxes
Offline and Paper Child Support Calculators
If you’d rather do it the old-fashioned way, or you’d rather use an offline Excel calculator, you’re in luck.
If you prefer making calculations by hand, there’s a “Pen & Ink EZ Form Worksheet” that you can download as a PDF and then immediately print out. It’s most useful for basic child support calculations, especially if you don’t have to worry about other adjustments and deviations. They recommend using a hand-held calculator to double check your figures, of course, or just to make the whole process easier.
If you’d prefer an Excel worksheet you can download to your computer, there’s also an Excel Child Support calculator. Simple download the document and follow the instructions. You’ll enter your data in the appropriate row and column, and the formulae built into the Excel sheet will do the rest.
How is Child Support Calculated in Georgia?
In cases from 2006 and prior, the only relevant income was the non-custodial parent, or the parent who isn’t considered the primary caretaker. Now, however, the income of both parties is calculated to come up with a more reasonable and equal sum.
The incomes are piled together, and then the “basic obligation” for the child is determined. Then, a proportional amount is of the basic obligation is split between the parents. The custodial parent is no doubt already paying for their “half,” essentially, so the non-custodial parent pays the difference. The idea is that the sum is more based off a percentage of what you make than a flat amount.
In the past, if the custodial parent was making significantly more money than the non-custodial parent, it didn’t matter – the non-custodial still had to pay a high amount to support the children.
The law has also been changed so that ALL income is counted, which includes bonuses, income from real estate, annuities, severance packages, unemployment, and capital gains, just to name a few.
The system also keeps track of the amount of custody time, called a “parenting time deviation.” Basically, the more custody you have – and the more the children spend time with you – the less money you’ll be paying in child support. This is based off the idea that a larger percentage of money is being spent on the children whilst in your care – food, clothing, entertainment, and even rent and other living expenses. This is not always the case, so make sure you check with your court liaison or attorney before entering it into the sheet.
Child Custody Laws in Georgia
Just a quick rundown on Georgia custody laws: both parents are considered equal by the letter of the law. There are two types of custody (as regards the time split), and there’s two types of custody as regards decision-making.
Joint or sole custody is obvious – you either split the time or one parent gets all of the time. The other types of custody are “physical” and “legal.” Physical is what it sounds like – it determines where the child lives. Legal custody is more complicated – it involves all of the decisions and legal responsibilities inherent to guardianship.
For instance, you might have joint physical custody – the child sees both parents equally – but sole legal custody, meaning only one parent is allowed to make legal and health decisions regarding the child. Obviously, there are many permutations of these four types of custody, so just remember to keep that in mind when filling out the child support documentation.
A Child Support Calculator is Only an Estimate
Remember that before you start planning your finances – most GA child support calculators provide loose estimates only. It’s vitally important that you not count your chickens before they’re hatched in this regard – only the court can decide what you’ll ultimately be paying, whether or not you’ll get parental time deviations, and the like.
Still, it’s a good idea to use the child support calculators early on in the process to give yourself an idea of what either you’ll be paying or what the other parent will be paying, depending on your situation.
Whether you seek out a quick-and-dirty online one like the calculator at All Law, a more in-depth online calculator like the one at the Georgia Courts site, or an offline spreadsheet or hardcopy work sheet, it’s best to talk to your lawyer or other professional.
They’ve seen it all before and can usually give you an accurate range. They know the court, the judge, the current laws, and precedents, and can be an invaluable resource in this matter.