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.
For many people going through a divorce their biggest asset is their home or in legal speak, the marital residence. Deciding what to do about the marital residence is often a major issue in a divorce. There are a few different options when it comes to splitting the marital residence.
One option is for one spouse to keep the house and buy out the other spouse’s share. Another option is for one spouse to be granted exclusive use for a specified period of time, usually when the youngest child turns 18, after which the house will be sold. Finally, the house can be sold outright with the profits being allocated to each spouse.
Should you sell your house? Hard as it may be this is a decision that needs to be made devoid of emotions. As a practical matter take into consideration whether or not it is financially beneficial to keep the home. If not and you do decide to sell here are a few tips to help you through the process.
Time is money: Put your home on the market as far in advance as possible of purchasing a new one. Remember that when people buy and sell a home there usually is a domino effect. Closing and moving dates have to be coordinated, and the more firmly everyone commits to a window of dates and sticks to them, the better for all involved. Put all agreements about dates in writing, and protect yourself by negotiating financial penalties for failure to live up to the agreement.
What factors do courts take into account when deciding who gets custody of the children?
Almost all courts use a standard that gives the "best interests of the child" the highest priority when deciding custody issues. What the best interests of a child are in a given situation depends on many factors, including:
- the child’s age, sex, and mental and physical health
- the parent’s mental and physical health
- the parent’s lifestyle and other social factors, including whether the child is exposed to second-hand smoke and whether there is any history of child abuse
- the emotional bond between parent and child, as well as the parent’s ability to give the child guidance
- the parent’s ability to provide the child with food, shelter, clothing, and medical care
- the child’s established living pattern (school, home, community, religious institution)
- the quality of the child’s education in the current situation
- the impact on the child of changing the status quo, and
- the child’s preference, if the child is above a certain age (usually about 12).
Assuming that none of these factors clearly favors one parent over the other, most courts tend to focus on which parent is likely to provide the children a stable environment, and which parent will better foster the child’s relationship with the other parent. With younger children, this may mean awarding custody to the parent who has been the child’s primary caregiver. With older children, this may mean giving custody to the parent who is best able to foster continuity in education, neighborhood life, religious institutions, and peer relationships.
Is a father who never married the mother still required to pay child support?
The short answer to this question is yes. When a mother is not married, however, there can sometimes be confusion about who the child’s legal father is for purposes of support. An "acknowledged father" is any biological father of a child born to unmarried parents for whom paternity has been established by either the admission of the father or the agreement of the parents. Acknowledged fathers are required to pay child support. Additionally, a man who never married the child’s mother may be presumed to be the father if he welcomes the child into his home and openly holds the child out as his own.