Georgia’s New Income Shares Child Support Guidelines

The new Georgia child support guidelines become effective January 1, 2007, and apply to all pending civil actions on or after January 1, 2007. Under the new guidelines, there are several steps that are used to arrive at a child support obligation. First, the gross income of both the mother and the father is determined. This income includes amounts from all non-exempt sources and includes: salary, wages, commissions, self-employed income, bonuses, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income annuity income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, judgments from personal injury claims or other civil cases, gifts, prizes, alimony from persons not in the subject case, assets which are used for support of family, fringe benefits that significantly reduce living expenses, and any other income including imputed income. Variable income such as commissions or bonuses must be averaged over a reasonable period of time.

After the gross income of both the mother and father is determined, the income may be adjusted in three ways. If there is self-employed income, there is a reduction for one-half of the self-employment taxes being paid. Secondly, if either parent is paying child support under a preexisting child support order, the monthly gross income of such parent is reduced by the amount of monthly support such parent has been actually paying. Finally, if either parent is supporting his or her own children living in the home, but who are not the subject of this child support determination, the court in its discretion may reduce the gross income after calculating a theoretical child support order. This final adjustment will be difficult to obtain since the court must find the failure to do so would cause a financial hardship on the parent and that such adjustment is in the best interest of the child in the case at hand.

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The steps to a collaborative divorce

How a collaborative divorce works

Here are the steps a couple might take in a collaborative divorce:

• Each party chooses a collaboratively trained divorce attorney

• The attorneys contact each other to evaluate whether the divorce can be handled collaboratively.

• The parties meet and sign a contract that says they will not litigate. If they decide to go to court later, their attorneys are disqualified from representing them, and they begin the process over.

• Meetings are scheduled to exchange relevant information about finances and children.

• The parties choose a team that could include divorce coaches (mental-health professionals, a neutral financial adviser, a child advocate). They might or might not meet later with these team members.

• The attorneys draw up the divorce documents. The parties sign them, and the papers are filed with the court.

Source: Gretchen Walther, Albuquerque collaborative divorce attorney and spokeswoman for the American Bar Association and The Arizona Republic