The court can deviate from the presumptive child support amount calculated by the child support worksheets for several reasons, IF the child support deviation is in the best interest of the child(ren) for whom child support is being determined. OCGA §19-6-15(i)(1)(A). The second deviation category under the statute is low income. OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(B). To obtain a deviation under this category, the parent “shall demonstrate no earning capacity or that his or her pro rata share of the presumptive amount of child support would create an extreme economic hardship for such parent.” OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(B)(i).
There are certain steps the court or jury must go through in considering a low-income deviation. First, the fact finder must “examine all attributable and excluded sources of income, assets and benefits available to the noncustodial parent” and ensure that the parent’s expenses are justified and actually paid by that parent. OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(B)(ii). Then, the fact finder shall consider the income, assets, benefits and expenses of each parent, the hardship of a downward deviation on the custodial parent’s household, the needs of each parent and those of the children, and the ability of the noncustodial parent to pay child support. OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(B)(iii).
Even if a low-income deviation is granted, the minimum child support for one child “shall not be less than $100.00 per month” and this amount “shall be increased by at least $50.00 for each additional child.” OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(B)(v).