Child Support Services That Keeps Your Georgia Family Secure and Comfortable
The attorneys at the Sherman Law Group understand the complexities and the nuance of the Georgia child support law. We know the relevant cases and how different judges apply them. We work with the law every day so that our clients can have the best lives possible and that their children are taken care of.
In a divorce or simply when couples break-up, if there are children involved, then someone is going to be paying child support. It might be the man who pays the support or it might be the woman, but very likely someone will pay child support. If you are not properly represented in a child support matter, then you are at great risk that your life will be negatively affected. Your lifestyle, your standard of living hangs in the balance.
If you have custody of the children, asking for child support can be a very emotional experience. On one hand, you know you need the support to best care for your children properly, to do for the kids all of the things that should be done. On the other hand, you really don't want to be perceived as "greedy," as caring just about money.
You can be sure of this: asking an attorney for help in getting support for your child is not greedy. It is responsible, it is mature, it is good parenting. You should fight for your child's right to have the money to make sure that they can get the food, housing, education and social experiences they need to have the best life possible.
Georgia Child Support Law: The Basics
In Georgia, child support is designed to provide for the needs of children. A child's needs can include health insurance costs and daycare costs. Georgia's child support guidelines require the court to consider the monthly income of both parents. The child support guidelines are one tool to calculate support. There are often many issues that a court considers.
How Do Child Support Orders Work? (Beware: It Isn't Just A Child Support Calculator)
In Georgia, a superior court judge will determine how much child support is appropriate based on Georgia state law, which looks at the income of both parents and the percentage of time the children are with each parent. A child support order can be temporary, lasting only during the course of a divorce, or it can be permanent after a marriage ends. There are child support guidelines under Georgia law. But the child support guidelines are convoluted and complex and are usually only really understandable to lawyers in the field. We have our own child support calculator. That is, we make our child support calculations based upon the most up-to-date law and cases.
Modifying an Existing Child Support Order
You may already be receiving child support in Georgia. But things happen; things change. Maybe something in one of the parents' lives changes drastically and the current support amount that was agreed upon or awarded by a court isn't working out anymore? Examples of this can include if your custody arrangement changed and you now have sole legal and physical custody, or if your ex-husband or ex-wife was laid off and no longer has a steady source of income, like they once did. Or if his income is drastically reduced, or possibly his income is now much higher than when the child support order was originally set.
What Do Courts Look At To Change a Child Support Order?
Life is full of changes. The younger your children are, the greater the chance that changing, unexpected circumstances will require a modification in some way in child support at some point before they are of legal age. The main reasons a modification might be requested can include:
- One or both of the parents are earning a lot more money, or perhaps a lot less money (this does not apply if a parent quit his or her job); or a parent has had a financial windfall (like winning a lottery)
- The child custody agreement or arrangement has changed in some meaningful way (someone gets more custody or less custody)
- A parent is serving in the United States military or has been deployed overseas (remember: the military has bases all over the world)
We have seen these situations many times. But the courts will consider any true significant changes in parents' lives. If both parents are able to fully agree on the change ahead of time, they can sign a stipulation that must be presented to the court. If there is a disagreement about the modification, the matter will go to a superior court and a judge must then decide.
Knowing what to file for child support is one thing, but it's another thing to actually do it successfully. The child support system in Georgia can be very challenging to navigate and extremely confusing. When it comes to securing the support you need to raise your children properly, going it alone can be unhelpful, even dangerous. Seek help from professional Georgia child support attorneys and let them guide and represent you.
Some Reasons For An Upward Or Downward Modification Of Child Support
Courts can modify a child support order for many reasons. Many times it comes down to how well a lawyer makes the argument and how the argument is received by a judge. Remember: many times the calculation of child support is not done with a "child support calculator" or even pursuant to published child support guidelines. Rather, a compelling case must be presented to a judge -- and all the facts and circumstances can come into play. Here are some reasons why a judge may modify a child support order:
- the payer has suffered financial hardship
- the child has a medical emergency, illness or injury
- the payer has suffers a medical emergency, illness or injury
- the recipient parent encounters a financial setback
What Happens If A Person is Hiding Income and Assets?
Sometimes one party tries to hide assets so that he or she will pay less child support. In these situations it is important to like at things like bank records, brokerage account statements, property ownership and even whether a party owns expensive and fancy cars and whether they take costly vacations. We have seen a former spouse plead poverty, and then found records that he took a month-long trip throughout Europe and stayed in 5-star hotels.
A person with a more "flashy" lifestyle may be seen by the court as being capable of paying more child support. A lifestyle analysis can be difficult to do and may be complex, but if an individual's lifestyle suggests they are capable of paying more child support, a judge may impute a certain amount of child support beyond the guideline amounts.
Must Grandparents Pay Child Support For Their Grandchildren?
This is an interesting question and one we have been asked several times. Some attorneys have argued that since a parent is responsible for the support of his or her child, then a grandparent is responsible for making child support payments if his or her child does not do so. This argument often arises when a grandparent is wealthy and their child is not making the scheduled child support payments. However, Georgia courts have not found a duty obligating grandparents to make child support payments. The one exception being when a grandparent is standing in loco parentis to their grandchild -- when they have formally taken on parenting responsibilities for their grandchild.
What Happens If You Lose Your Job or Your Pay Drops?
In these difficult economic times, job loss, unemployment, underemployment and making less money at the same job are all prevalent issues. However, courts will not make any modification of child support retroactively. That means you will not get credit for the time you were out of work or made less money. Courts will not look back and modify or change your order. They can only look ahead and change your obligation. So act quickly.
Document Your Job Search Efforts
That means you must file a motion to adjust your support order as soon as possible. And to get get in trouble with the judge, you should pay what you can. If you pay nothing, you can face sever court sanctions. Here are some steps you need to take:
- Try to find a new job as soon as possible
- Start documenting your job-seeking efforts
- Keep copies of letters
- Keep logs for emails sent
- Maintain a record of phone calls
- Track your spending on the job search
Fathers' Rights Groups
There are many fathers' rights groups. Members often believe that they are discriminated against because of their gender. A bill recently introduced in a state legislature would do the following:
- cap child support payments at a maximum $150,000 per year
- prevent judges from taking parents' assets into account in determining child support
- command courts to retroactively lower child support payments if the old payments are 10% or more above what the new payment system would require
The bill is, obviously, controversial. It will be very interesting to see if it is passed into law.
Mothers' Rights Group
Just as there are fathers' rights groups, there are also mothers' rights groups. Mothers' rights organizations are concerned about economic fairness, as well as other issues. That is, they seek to ensure that the economic value of a mother's "work" of caring for children and other domestic duties is properly valued. They want to enhance the caregivers' economic status by highlighting their importance to the family, the economy and to society.
Child Support Lawyers with Offices in Roswell & Cumming
At the Sherman Law Group we have helped many, many people address their child support issues. Our experience and understanding of the judicial system sets us apart from the rest. Attorney William H. Sherman has served as a Senior Assistant County Attorney and as an Assistant Attorney General. Attorney Valerie W. Sherman served as a Magistrate Judge and as an Assistant County Attorney. Our clients tremendously benefit from our vast experience.
At the Sherman Law Group, our focused child support attorneys can help you achieve your desired results. Our convenient locations in Roswell, GA and Cumming, GA allow us to serve families from all over the Atlanta Metro area, including North Fulton County, Cobb County, Forsyth County, Cherokee County and Gwinnett County. We thoroughly understand how the child support process works — and when you work with us, we will make sure you understand it as well. Our goal is to help you live securely and comfortably and get your life back to normal as soon as possible.
Call the Sherman Law Group at (678) 712-8561 today for a consultation.
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