In determining child support under Georgia law, a parent’s unemployment alone does not absolve him or her of the obligation to pay child support. Courts look to what they consider reliable evidence of a parent’s ability to earn income, such as tax returns for prior years, check stubs, and other information for determining one’s current ability to pay child support. However, there are some circumstances in which there exists no reliable evidence to calculate a parent’s income. Prior to July 1, 2018, Georgia law provided that the court or jury could simply impute the gross income of a parent based on a 40-hour work week at minimum wage.
However, beginning July 1, 2018, Georgia amended its laws regarding imputed income to require courts to make a more individualized assessment of one’s ability to earn income. O.C.G.A §19-6-15(f)(4)(A). When imputing a parent’s income, courts now have to consider specific factors such as the parent’s assets, residence, employment and earning history, job skills, educational attainment, literacy, age, health, criminal record and other employment barriers, and record of seeking work, as well as the local job market, the availability of employers willing to hire the parent, prevailing earnings level in the community, and other relevant background factors in the case. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15 (f)(C).
Furthermore, when a parent believes that the imputed income of the other parent is lower than that parent’s actual income, he or she may within 90 days, upon filing a motion with the court, present reliable evidence to determine the appropriate amount of child support. Upon a hearing on the matter and the presentation of reliable evidence, the amount of child support may be either increased or decreased, or remain as imputed. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(f)(4)(C).
Due to the recent complexity of the determination of imputed income, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that child support is calculated accurately on the part of both parents. Specifically, a skilled divorce attorney will know the reliable evidence to gather and present to the court, such as the testimony of vocational experts and/or data and publications from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to correctly determine child support. With its long-lasting implications and it perhaps being the most significant issue in a divorce case, it is imperative that potential clients retain experienced divorce counsel to ensure a fair and accurate child support finding. Contact the
Faucette Law Firm today at (770) 485-6620 to discuss divorce, child support, child custody, and any other family-law related concerns. We serve the Atlanta, Douglasville, Lithia Springs, Marietta, Smyrna and Powder Springs areas.