Another one of Georgia’s non-mandatory deviations that is widely applicable but often not utilized is the Travel Expenses deviation. This deviation, which is properly referred to as the visitation Related Travel Expense deviation, is found on Schedule E, line 6 of Georgia’s Child Support Worksheet. According to Georgia statutory law regarding the Travel Expenses deviation:
“If court ordered visitation related travel expenses are substantial due to the distance between the parents, the court may order the allocation of such costs or the jury may by a finding in its special interrogatory allocate such costs by deviation from the presumptive amount of child support, taking into consideration the circumstances of the respective parents as well as which parent moved and the reason for such move.”
What this means practically is if the non-custodial parent must travel to exercise parenting time, he or she may seek a downward deviation to their presumptive child support amount to ensure that parents is not hampered from exercising parenting time due to financial constraints. As with the other non-mandatory deviations allowable in Georgia, the presiding court is not required to include this deviation the final child support calculation. Specifically, according to the above cited statute, a court may refuse to incorporate this deviation if for example the parent seeking the deviation purposefully placed him or herself in a situation that requires significant travel to exercise parenting time.
The Visitation Related Travel Expenses deviation has the potential to have a very large impact on the final child support amount for two main reasons: 1) The application of this deviation results in a “dollar for dollar” deviation to the child support amount and 2) Visitation related expenses tend to be more substantial than some other expenses that may be included as deviations to the presumptive child support amount, such as health insurance premium amounts, because they often include the cost of airplane tickets and other costly travel expenses.
As is exemplified in the child support worksheet except below, to take advantage of the Travel Expense deviation, the non-custodial parent should insert the requested deviation amount in the applicable field. If a downward deviation is sought, this amount should be entered as a negative number. If an upward deviation is sought, this amount should be entered as a positive number. Using the graphic below as an example, if Father is the non-custodial parent, and the presumptive child support amount is $1000 per month, the requested downward deviation would result in a final child support amount of $500 per month.