Is My New Spouse's Income Taken Into Account in Child Support in Georgia State?

Child support is one of those areas of law where there aren't always black and white answers. If you live in Georgia and if you remarry, your new spouse's income probably won't affect your child support order. Then again, it might. It depends on the specifics of your personal situation, but typically, the court would only look to your new spouse's income under unusual circumstances.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Generally, a new spouse's income will not effect a child support order. There are exceptions to the rule, however.

Child Support Guidelines

Georgia overhauled its child support guidelines in 2007, switching from the old-fashioned "percentage of income" formula for calculating support to the more modern "income shares" model now used by the majority of states. The income shares model begins with each parent's gross income; then the court subtracts certain allowable deductions. After deductions, both incomes are added together, and then a portion of this total is set aside for your child's needs. Each parent contributes to this portion based on the percentage he or she contributes to the combined total. For example, if your earnings contribute 60 percent to your combined incomes, you'd pay 60 percent of the sum set aside for your child's needs each month.

Substantial Changes

If you marry after the court first calculates and issues your child support order, your new spouse's income would obviously have no effect on that initial order. Your new spouse's income could only become an issue if your child's other parent were to go back to court to have the original order modified. At this point, your marriage might lead the court to increase your child support obligation — or decrease it.

Your new spouse's income would have to make a significant change in your financial situation to warrant any modification at all. If both you and your new spouse both earn average incomes and you're not coming into a windfall because you've married a millionaire, there's typically no reason for the court to adjust your support or consider your spouse's income in modification recalculations.

Factors for Deviation

Because Georgia's child support guidelines are based solely on your income and your child's other parent's income, a judge would have to deviate from the guidelines to take your new spouse's income into consideration for modification. For example, if you remarry and your new spouse is so comfortably well-off that you don't have to work, the court could deviate from the guidelines and use your spouse's income rather than yours because you no longer have one.

Likewise, if you marry someone whose income is significant enough that she pays most or all of your bills, your child's other parent could argue that you now have more disposable income, so you should pay more in support. By the same token, if you and your new spouse have a child together, this could lower your support obligation. One of the deductions Georgia courts take from your gross income represents money you spend to support other children. Your new spouse's income would help determine how much of a deduction you can take for your new child because she would be helping to support that child too.

The Two-Year Limit

Your child's other parent can't repeatedly take you back to court to try to have child support modified because you've remarried. She can do so once after the court issues the initial child support order, but then she can't ask for another modification for another two years. Exceptions exist if your parenting time has changed dramatically or if she's suffered a significant reduction in her own income through no fault of her own.

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