Georgia courts 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 ninth deviation category under the statute is Permanency Plan or Foster Care Plan. OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(I). This deviation may be considered when the child is in foster care.
Under this deviation, when the child is in the legal custody of a public or private child protection or foster care agency, the court can consider a deviation "if the deviation will assist in accomplishing a permanency plan or foster care plan for the child that has a goal of returning the child to the parent or parents and the parent's need to establish an adequate household or to otherwise adequately prepare herself or himself for the return of the child clearly justifies a deviation for this purpose." Id. For example, consider a situation where a child is in the custody of a state agency, and the parent is diligently working two jobs so that he/she can attain a stable residence for the child. The parent may be able to make ends meet, attain a stable residence and accomplish the goals necessary for return of the child to his/her custody, but only if he/she received a downward deviation in child support. In this situation, the court would look at the big picture and end goal, and may grant the deviation under the circumstances.