A recent case heard by the Supreme Court of Georgia highlighted how trial courts should characterize employer paid health premiums as they relate to child support. In Hendry v. Hendry, the parties divorced, with the mother receiving primary physical custody and the father required to pay $2400 per month in child support for their three children. Hendry v. Hendry, 292 Ga. 1 (2012).
In determining the father’s gross income for purposes of child support, the trial court included an amount that his employer pays him to reimburse the costs of his family health insurance plan.Id. The father appealed, alleging that this benefit should not be included in his gross income, and the Supreme Court of Georgia agreed. Id. The Georgia child support statute specifically states that gross income foes not include “employee benefits that are typically added to the salary, wage, or other compensation that a parent may receive as a standard added benefit, including, but not limited to, employer paid portions of health insurance premiums…” OCGA§19-6-15(f)(1)(C).
The Court stated that the record showed that the father “is paid $935 each month by his employer only because he actually remits that amount each month as a premium for family health insurance,and we find no evidence that he would continue to receive the same amount if the cost of his premiums decreased or that he could redirect the amount of his reimbursement to his ordinary living expenses.” Hendry. at 4. Thus, the Court held that this reimbursement is actually employer paid health insurance premiums and should not count toward hi gross income.
The Court further noted that the father could not additionally receive credit on the child support worksheets for paying the health insurance premiums for which he was being reimbursed, as that would give him double credit for the same expense. Id.