PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of this series is to explain some of the general principles of calculating child support under Georgia Law. It is impossible to explain how child support is handled in every divorce case, because each case is unique, with it’s own special facts and circumstances. If you need to have child support calculated for a divorce, legitimation, modification, or any other type of case, you should seek the advice of an attorney to ensure that your case is being handled properly.
Part 2 – Garbage In, Garbage Out (Schedule A – Income)
For most parents, their income will be input on Schedule A of the child support worksheet. This is where most pro se litigants (and even some attorneys) can make critical mistakes. This is also the most likely place to see some creative accounting, to increase or decrease a child support obligation. Needless to say, it’s very important to understand the figures input in Schedule A and ensure their accuracy.
Taking a close look at Schedule A, you will see that there is a column for each parent and down the left side of the worksheet you will see the various forms of income listed. Here is a brief explanation of the most frequently used income lines:
Line 1: Salary and Wages – this is the normal paycheck the parent receives from all employers. This amount needs to be calculated on a monthly basis (which is not the same as four weeks of pay) and it should be the gross pay (pay before any taxes or deductions). Many people take issues with the figures in this box, either using only four weeks of pay, which does not account for the months that have five weeks, or by using some other calculation of monthly pay, such as base pay or a short paycheck. Look carefully at each parent’s paystubs as well as W-2’s in determining the correct monthly gross wage amount.
Line 2: Commissions, Fees, Tips – this is used for people who regularly earn these types of income. Be sure this is accurately calculated by using more than one check, especially when it comes to commissions that are only paid periodically.
Line 4: Bonuses – calculating bonus income can be difficult if the parent does not have a contract that ensures the amount of bonuses that will be received. In order to calculate bonus income, the parent will likely have to receive several bonuses on a consistent basis.
Line 13: Social Security Disability or Retirement Benefits – Yes, SS Disability and Retirement Benefits count as income and need to be listed as such on Schedule A. Be sure to use the gross amounts, in case taxes or other benefits are deducted. If the parent is also receiving SS Disability benefits on behalf of a child, that amount should not be included here.
Line 16: Unemployment Benefits – unemployment benefits also constitute income and should be included as income on Schedule A. Be sure to use the gross amount.
Line 23: Other Income, including Imputed Income – imputed income is often used where a parent is unemployed, especially voluntarily, or where a parent is voluntarily underemployed. Imputed income can also be used by the Court when a parent refuses or fails to produce any proof of actual income.
This touches the highlights of Schedule A of the Georgia Child Support Worksheets. A more thorough review can be provided by your attorney. The most important aspect of Schedule A is to ensure that income is correctly calculated before being input in the worksheet. You should always seek the advice of an attorney to assist you in calculating child support.
Also see Part 1 of this series for an overview of the Georgia Child Support Worksheet.
Click here for more information provided by the State of Georgia.