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What are Non-Mandatory Deviations in Georgia?

Every divorce, child custody and child support matter is different. With that being said, the presumptive child support amount generated by Georgia’s child support worksheet may not always be in the best interest of the child involved or practical for the parents involved. This may be the case for several reasons. For example, if one parent takes on additional or extraordinary child care expense such as paying tuition for private school. Additionally, the presumptive child support amount may not be appropriate in the situation where both parents share an equal amount of parenting time, because this may leave the non-custodial parent without the resources necessary to care for the child during his or her parenting time. For these special circumstances, and many others, Georgia’s Non-Mandatory Deviations to the Presumptive Child Support Amount may help conform the final child support amount to the particular circumstances of each case.

Non-mandatory deviations are changes or adjustments that may be made to the presumptive child support amount if warranted. These deviations are known as non-mandatory because they are discretionary. This means that even though one party may request a deviation, it is within the presiding court’s discretion whether to allow it. Not only may the court refuse to allow a certain deviation, but may also modify the amount of the requested deviation. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(b)(8)(A) et seq.  Below is a list some of the more common allowable non-mandatory deviations in Georgia, along with a brief explanation. If you are curious as to whether any of these deviations may be applicable in your matter, contact a member of our Atlanta divorce Team. We would be more than glad to provide you with some insight.

Parenting Time Deviation

A parenting time deviation is an adjustment to the non-custodial parent’s presumptive child support amount based on the non-custodial parent’s visitation time with the child. This deviation most often applies to cases where the parents share joint physical custody of the child. The purpose of this deviation is to ensure to ensure the on-custodial parent has the ability to care for the minor child during his or her extended parenting time. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i)(2)(K)(i).

Extraordinary Expenses

This deviation may be applicable in a situation where either the custodial or non-custodial parent incurs extraordinary child care expenses in caring for the child. Expenses are considered extraordinary if they are significantly more than those of an average family. Examples of extraordinary expense include extraordinary educational expenses and extraordinary medical expenses. See O.C.G.A. 19-6-15(i)(2)(J) et seq.

High Income Deviation

If the combined income of both parents exceeds $30,000 per month, the parents are considered to be high income parents and their child support obligation may be deviated upward to produce an appropriate final child support amount. This deviation is necessary because the child support calculator is limited to producing child support calculations for combined incomes of $30,000 or less. This means that even if the combined income of the parents is $50,000, the child support amount will be calculated as if the parents’ income was $30,000.   See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i)(2)(A).

Other Health Related Insurance Deviation

This deviation applies to premiums paid by either parent on behalf of the minor child for health related insurance other than medical insurance, such as vision insurance or dental insurance. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(i)(2)(C).

Travel Expense Deviation

The travel expense deviation may be applicable if one parent must travel a significant distance in order to exercise his or her parenting time. To counterbalance the costs associated with visitation, the court may apply a downward deviation to the presumptive child support amount. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(i)(2)(F).

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