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Travel expenses deviation in Georgia – what is appropriate?

In Georgia, child support is calculated using the child support worksheets to obtain a presumptive child support amount, which can then be deviated from using several specified grounds. OCGA§19-6-15. One such deviation is the travel expenses deviation, which can be used to account for substantial travel costs incurred when the parents live in different cities or states. OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(F). In allowing this deviation, the court must consider “the circumstances of the respective parents as well as which parent moved and the reason for such move.”Id.

I recently attended a seminar where several Atlanta-based judges discussed this issue. The judges were consistent in stating that they would only grant this deviation for things that had been done in the past, not just things a party said he/she would do. For example, if an out of town parent previously only visited twice a year, it is unlikely that this parent would get a deviation for monthly travel expenses. In addition, the judges all agreed that if the distance between parents was great, they would be more likely to award travel expenses for fewer, longer visits (such as over winter break or summer) rather than short monthly visits, as this would be a better use of quality visitation time as well as travel expenses. Overall, the judges do not want to discourage visitation, but also do not want to encourage misuse of this deviation.

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