In Georgia, child support is calculated using the child support worksheets to obtain a presumptive child support amount, which can then be deviated from using several specified grounds. OCGA §19-6-15. One such deviation is the parenting time deviation which can apply “when special circumstances make the presumptive amount of child support excessive or inadequate due to extended parenting time as set forth in the order of visitation or when the child resides with both parents equally.” OCGA §19-6-15(i)(2)(K)(i). The statute, however, gives no guidelines for what the deviation should be.
I recently attended a seminar where several Atlanta-based judges discussed this issue using the example of a child who resides with each parent equally. One Fulton county judge stated that, even with equally shared visitation, if one parent makes significantly more money than the other, some child support should be paid to the other parent. Another Judge agreed, with the caveat that if the higher wage earner was paying other expenses such as day care and/or medical, this should count toward support and, thus, it is possible that no child support would be paid to the other parent. Thus, since it is in the discretion of the judge, it is likely that the deviation will vary depending on your county and your judge. All of the Judges believed, however, that, in this situation, the calculation should start with the presumptive child support amount and go down from there, rather than assuming there should be no child support paid.