Tonight's post on Child Support was written by our Atlanta Family Law
Attorney, Cherese Clark.
In Part 1 of this blog series I discussed the what some may think is equivalent
to blasphemy in domestic litigation, the term "settlement."
The next domestically dirty word, or words, deserve some attention is
a term that strikes fear in the hearts of many non-custodial parents-
When you examine each word separately, "child" then "support,"
both words would normally bring a smile to faces and pleasant thoughts.
Only parents can understand the love you have for your child and your
overwhelming desire to support your child's dreams and endeavors.
But when you put the words "child" and "support" side
by side, for some it turns into dirty notion tainted filth. Why is that?
Two simple terms that if broken down to the barest bones actually aren't
at all dirty?
While the word "child" may be fairly self explanatory, the definition
still warrants mention to fully understand the my point. The word child
is defied as " a son or daughter of human parents." "Support"
means "to give help and assistance to" and "to promote
the interests or cause of." Now, when you combine the two, "child
support" means to assist and promote the interest of a son or daughter
of human parents. The support is not for the son or daughter of monsters
or animals. So why does the idea of child support sometimes turn two people
that created something so beautiful into savage beasts?
Throughout the metro Atlanta area I have experienced several repeating
scenarios in which child support's dirty perception manifests: 1.
a party wants to low ball income to
avoid their child support "bill" (another's words, not mine); 2. a party answers a petition for child
support with a counter claim for custody to avoid child support; or 3.
one side tries to negotiate shared custody to zero out child support so
that neither party will have to pay. Although all three scenarios are
very different, a commonality beaming through them is that all three fail
to consider what's in the best interest of the child, which is the
standard in determining child support under Georgia law.
One major concern parties have is that the custodial parent is not using
the support money for the benefit of the child. While I do understand
the sentiment, this idea does not consider all of the expenses it takes
to raise a child. What about housing and food for the child, gas to shuttle
the child to and from school and activities, utilities that may increase
in the household, incidental expenses not contemplated by the child support
Georgia courts rarely, if at all, get into the business of scrutinizing
how support is used in the custodial parent's home. If every Judge
micromanaged the finances of the parties in every child support case,
litigation would be prolonged and protracted. Either way it goes, if either
parent, custodial or non-custodial, intentionally miscalculate income
or misuse support funds, then the only person suffering is the child.
Remember your subjective intentions are not what matter in this, it is
what is in the best interest of your child.
Family law is an emotional area of practice because two things that people
love most intersect- children and money. However, if you keep in mind
the definitions of "child" and "support," it is clear
that "child support" is not a dirty word but an honorable one.