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Is Paying Off Your Child’s Car Considered Child Support?

Imagine that you purchase a car for your sixteen year old child. Later on, unforeseen things happen and you end up divorcing your spouse. If the court orders you to pay off your child’s car as part of the divorce, is that considered child support? The Georgia Court of Appeals recently considered a similar situation.

In Partridge v. Partridge, Mr. and Mrs. Partridge were married on December 30, 1994, and had two children together. Partridge v. Partridge, 297 Ga. 272 (2015). The parties were divorced pursuant to a June 2, 2014, Final Decree, and as part of the Final Decree, “the trial court ordered, among other things, that Husband ‘shall continue to make monthly payments on the minor child’s automobile, which is currently in her possession, until said automobile is paid in full.’” Id. at 272-73. Mr. Partridge contended that the trial court erred by ordering him to pay the car payments on the minor child’s automobile, since “those car payments constituted an improper deviation from the amount of child support that Husband was legally required to pay.” Id. at 274.

Notwithstanding, the Appellate Court asserted that Mr. Partridge’s “characterization of these car payments as ‘child support’ is misplaced.” Id. The Appellate Court noted that “testimony at the final hearing established that this car was purchased during the marriage, and that both Husband and Wife were joint obligors on the indebtedness owed on the car. Accordingly, this marital debt could be properly addressed by the trial court through its equitable division of the parties’ marital property.” Id. at 274 (citing Moore v. Moore, 286 Ga. 505 (2010)). Therefore, the Appellate Court held that there was no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s decision to make Husband responsible for the continued payments on this marital debt as part of an equitable division of the parties’ property. Id. at 274 (citations omitted).

By: Jason W. Karasik, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC

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Child Support
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