In Georgia, the first step in determining the proper amount of child support is to determine the gross incomes of both parents. Gross income is the amount a person makes before taxes, insurance,etc. are taken out – it is not the amount that a person brings home each week or month. In a recent child support modification case, the Geprgoa Supreme Court reversed a case in which the trial court used the father’s take home pay, rather than his gross income, to calculate child support. Williams v. Williams, S13A0238 (2013).
In that case, the father filed a petition for modification of child support, claiming he had lost his job. Following a hearing, the trial court found that the father had a gross monthly income of$3,400 and modified his child support accordingly. The mother appealed, arguing that “the finding of gross monthly income is clearly erroneous.” Id. Upon review of the record, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the mother.
It seems that, at the hearing, the father testified that he “brought home about $3,400 each month.” Id. Upon a request for clarification, the father testified that he was not speaking of his gross income, but rather was referring to the amount that he brought home each month. The father then confirmed in his testimony that his gross monthly income was closer to $5,000 per month.Id.
As a result, the Georgia Supreme Court held that “[t]he evidence contained in the record does not support – and, in fact, clearly contradicts – the finding of the trial court” regarding the father’s gross income. Id. As such, it must be reversed and remanded to the trial court for a proper calculation of gross monthly income to determine if the modification is warranted.