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Child Support - Three Basic Truths

Tonight's critical post about Child Support was written by our Marietta Family Law Attorney, Jeannine Lowery. 

Children are priceless, but they aren't cheap. Anyone who has raised a child or two certainly understands this. As the Christmas bills settle in, it's a great time to think about what it costs to raise a child, and if you're doing it alone, how to make sure your child receives the support to which he or she is entitled by law.

Let's start out with three basic truths about child support.

One: all children are entitled to support from both parents.

This may seem like common sense. But to prevent any question, the Georgia Legislature specifically defines the obligations of parents in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2, stating "it is the duty of each parent, to provide for the maintenance, protection, and education" of the child until the child reaches the age of majority, "except to the extent that the duty of one parent is otherwise or further defined by court order." Therefore, both parents owe the duty of support even without a Court Order.

Two: this support is required of both parents from the day the child is born, regardless of whether the child has been legitimized.

There is no question that the parents of a child born out of wedlock are under a legal obligation to support the child, regardless of whether there has been legal action for paternity. If one parent fails to support their child, the other parent can recover the costs of raising the child since birth, even without a previous child support Order. The Court of Appeals of Georgia has determined that once paternity is established, the costs of raising a child since birth may be recovered and the Court will consider both the actual costs and the Child Support Guidelines to determine the child support obligations of the parents. See OCGA § 19-6-15 (b) and Smith v. Carter, 305 Ga. App. 479 (2010).

Three: parents cannot waive the right to a child's support and, in Georgia, the amount of support is determined by a child support worksheet.

Because children are not property, their support rights may not be given away by their parents. Child support is the right of the child and cannot be waived by a parent. Parents also cannot bargain away their children's right to seek increases in child support payments. The guidelines for computing the amount of child support are found in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15 and must be considered by any court setting child support. Those guidelines are not the maximum, but rather the minimum basis for determining the amount of child support.

The law recognizes that no one parent should bear the burden of single handedly supporting a child. In fact, Georgia law requires both parents to provide for their children and neither parent has the right to waive this requirement. So if you're one of the 13 million parents raising a child alone, it may be time to contact the Manely Firm, P.C., and get your child the support he or she is entitled to under the law.

Jeannine Lowery

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