The Georgia Child Support Commission has some Frequently Asked Questions on Georgia’s New Child Support Guidelines.

Thanks to Deborah Johnson, of the DeKalb Family Law Information Center, and Jill Radwin for posting these.

1. When does the new law start?

The new law takes effect on January 1, 2007. It will be applied to all child support decisions made after that date, even if the case was started in court before that.

2. If I already have a current child support order, how will I be affected by the change in the new child support guidelines, effective January 1, 2007.

No current order will automatically change, effective January 1, 2007. The only way that a current order will be affected is if a petition to modify is filed or there is a recommendation from the Office of Child Support Services for a modification, pursuant to O.C.G.A. §19-11-12.

3. Besides using the new child support guidelines’ worksheet and schedules, is there anything else I need for the court to decide my case in 2007?

Yes. You will need to bring to court proof of your income and certain expenses, including child care, health insurance for the child, special expenses (i.e., extracurricular activities) for the child, and child support orders for other children and the payment history you have made on those orders.

Don’t forget to bring a copy of the actual Child Support Worksheet and Schedules. If you are calculating child support on the new electronic worksheets, please do not forget to print out a copy of the Worksheet and Schedules before you submit it, via the internet, to the Judge.

4. Where do I get the Worksheet and Schedules?

You can get the manual versions of the Worksheet and Schedules from the following websites, or you can calculate your child support amount on the electronic calculators (worksheets) also provided on the same website. Don’t forget to print out the Worksheet before submitting it to the court. The websites are:

Office of Child Support Services at:
http://ocse.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-OCSE

Georgia Child Support Commission, which will have a link to the forms found on the website above, as well as other information, and can be found at:
http://www.georgiacourts.org/csc

5. I’m not very good at math. Will it be hard for me to fill out the Worksheet and Schedules?

No. The electronic versions of the Worksheet and Schedules will do the math for you. The “guided version” will walk through the whole calculation by asking you a series of questions. Then, it will fill out the forms for you. When you completely finish answering all of the questions and providing all of the information you will be able to get, you can “submit” the Worksheet & Schedules to the Judge electronically by completing the guided process to the very end.

However, the law also requires you to file the Worksheet & Schedules with the Court Clerk’s office. So, you will want to print out a copy before you electronically submit it to the court. This is because, once you submit it to the Judge over the Internet, you cannot print a copy and you cannot make any changes to it. Be sure to click on the “Printer Friendly” button at the bottom of the Review Page and print out the entire worksheet and schedules.

6. What happens if I do not have all of my information or I have not finished the electronic worksheet the first time I sit down in front of the computer?

Fill out all of the information you can the first time you sit in front of the computer. However, if you do not finish, be sure to click on the button at the bottom of the Worksheet which says, “Save for Later.” You will receive a Confirmation Number near the top of the Page. That is your own unique number. Write it down and store for safekeeping. Every time you get back on the website, enter that number and your worksheet will appear. The website will store your unfinished worksheet for up to one year.

7. If parents already have a court order for child support, will they be able to go back to court and get a new child support order under the new law?

No, not unless there has been a change in the parent’s financial circumstances or in the child’s needs. The change in the law, by itself, is not enough to allow the court to modify the existing child support order.

8. Under our divorce decree, my kids spend the summers with me. Will I be able to get my child support reduced under the new law?

No, not unless there has been a change in circumstances, so that the court can modify the existing child support order. The fact that the law has changed is not considered to be a change in circumstances.

Also, the new law does not give parents an automatic reduction in child support for extended visitation. However, the court will have discretion under the new law to raise or lower the amount of support if extended visitation makes the presumptive amount excessive or inadequate.

9. Where can I go to see the new support table and read the new law itself?

The Basic Child Support Obligation Table is a part of the new law. If you are using the electronic worksheets, the program will automatically put in the amount from the table on your Worksheet after you provide both parents’ incomes.

You can read the new law online at the following addresses: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2005_06/pdf/sb382.pdf
(the General Assembly website)
or http://www.georgiacourts.org/csc (the Child Support Commission website). You can also read it at local libraries, at local courthouses and law schools.

SOURCE: Georgia Child Support Commission