Marietta and Metro Atlanta Divorce and Family Law Blog

Understanding Child Support

Posted by Diane Cherry, Managing Partner | Dec 13, 2022 | 0 Comments

Child Support

Child support in Georgia is controlled by Georgia law.  It is calculated based upon the gross incomes of each parent. Parents often argue over the correct amount of child support, the manner in which in needs to be paid, how long it should last and what it is intended to cover.

Here are the basics you need to know:

#1.  Child support is for the support of minor children.  Once a child reaches 18 yeas of age and graduates from high school, child support is no longer paid for support of the child.

In Georgia, child support payment obligations end at age 18. This is considered the “age of majority,” and it's the point where the child can support him or herself independently, at least according to the courts. If the child is still in high school past 18, child support can last up to age 20, so long as the child is enrolled full-time.

There are a few exceptions, however, that can end child support payments early:

  • If the child becomes emancipated, child support payments will end
  • If the child marries, payments will end
  • If the child joins the military, payments will end (this can be as early as 17 with parental consent)

#2.  In Georgia, child support is intended to cover the basic necessities (food, clothing and shelter) for the minor child.  Typically, uninsured medical expenses, extraordinary educational fees, childcare, and extracurricular activities are handled separately by the parties.  The parent receiving child support should not be asking the other parent to pay for school lunches, clothing for the child and other incidentals.  All of those expenses should be coming out of child support.

#3.  In Georgia, a parent cannot be compelled to pay college expenses as part of his/her child support obligation.

Georgia does not require child support through college or technical training school. Of course, for many families, paying for college tuition takes the help of both parents, not to mention grants and loans. Some parents agree to provide for college expenses in their settlement agreements. Those provisions are fully enforceable, but as they are not mandatory requirements of the Georgia child support guidelines, they require both parents to agree.

#4.  In Georgia, child support can be awarded for special needs children over the age of 18.

If you have a special needs child, you may be awarded child support for an adult child. In such cases, the court will likely consider the extent of the disability and its effect on the child's ability to self-support. The court will also consider how much it will take to pay for the adult child's medical care, housing and other treatment. Special needs trusts can be ordered by the court as part of the divorce settlement; each parent is required to contribute a certain amount toward the trust for the care of the special needs child.

If you have questions about child support, reach out to a Georgia divorce lawyer to discuss your case.

About the Author

Diane Cherry, Managing Partner

I am an Atlanta area Family Law Attorney who has represented hundreds of clients in federal and state courts and administrative hearing cases throughout the State of Georgia.

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