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Family Law Survival Kit: “Do I have to pay child support?

Posted By Joette Melendez, Friday, June 30, 2017

Many people, upon hearing you are a lawyer, ask a family law question. One of the most common is “Do I have to pay child support?” Generally, if your former husband/wife/significant other/one night stand is suing for child support and you do not have primary custody, you will be liable for child support.


Determining Child Support 


Effective January 1, 2007, the income shares model takes into account the income of both parents when determining a child support amount. The income shares calculator is found at If a client pays health insurance premiums for the child(ren) and work related child care, it will be taken into account when establishing a final child support order. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(h). So, assuming the non-custodial parent is asking the question: “Do I have to pay child support?”; the answer is probably…Yes. However, if the non-custodial parent is willing to pay health insurance or work related child care, it will lower his/her child support obligation. 




Deviations from the presumptive amount of child support are possible if the required findings of fact are made by the court. O.C.G.A. §19-5-15(i). Deviations can also increase or decrease a child support amount. Deviations include high and low income, insurance and tax credit, travel expenses, alimony, mortgage, permanency/foster care plan, extraordinary expenses, parenting time, social security benefits, split parenting, uninsured health care expenses, and agreement. O.C.G.A. §19-5-15(i)(2). Paying private school tuition and extracurricular activities may also lower a parent’s child support obligation. Lawyers should ask clients to communicate their expenses to determine if the client can lower his/her child support obligation. A common misconception parents have is that the custodial parent can waive child support. That is not true. The right of child support belongs to the child and parents cannot give away their child(ren)’s right to child support. While the parties can always agree to a higher or lower amount than the calculator generated presumptive amount, there are no guarantees the judge will accept the parties’ agreement. 


Now that you know the answer to one of the most common family law questions, you can handle those distant acquaintances and late night relative calls with a little more confidence. Make sure to give them my number, however, just in case.


Fatima Harris, Esq. has over ten years of experience in representing men, women and children in divorce, custody, dependency and other family law issues. She can be reached at or 678-465-8645.


***If you or someone you know is faced with family law issues, please call

Atlanta Bar Association's Lawyer Referral & Information Service

at 404-521-0777.***

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