Preparing the Child Support Worksheet
As noted, this worksheet is complex and is constantly being updated. An experienced domestic attorney is needed to prepare it correctly. Atlanta Child Support Attorney Russell Hippe will make sure only the most recent version is being used.It is also just a guideline for the court to use and award support based on the best interest of the child or children. Arguments regarding its application may have to be made at either a temporary or a final hearing.
If you want to yourself learn more about this worksheet, you can visit the Georgia Child Support Commission website. You can even download it yourself, if you are so inclined.
Mr. Hippe or your attorney will plug in the proper monthly income numbers for each party. This may be bi-monthly salary, but if a spouse is self employed, it may be K-1 income off a tax return. It may be adjusted gross. Each situation will vary. Mr. Hippe has tried numerous cases where there is a dispute as to the correct amount to be shown on the worksheet.
As one specific example, Mr. Hippe brought a paternity action against an NFL football player in DeKalb County. The athlete argued his signing bonus shouldn’t be counted in monthly income as it was received at one time at the beginning of the year. The case went to trial and the judge, after listening to Mr. Hippe’s argument, agreed with Mr. Hippe - the bonus should be averaged over the year, as was all of the athletes income, and divided on a monthly basis. (NFL players are paid only during the season.)
The divorce and child support attorney has to use his experience in making sure that not only that the right income numbers are being used but also that all deviations are property shown. These deviations include credit for health insurance paid, credits for childcare that is paid so a parent can work, credit for summer activities so the parent can work, any child support paid on another case, travel expenses associated with visitation, any special education expenses, any high (above 30k gross income per month) or low income deviations, and so on.Citation of Relevant Authority:
Calculation of Gross Income for Self Employed Individuals – Court may use average K-1 income, averaged in this case over a 3 year period, and corp. paid fringe benefits in calculation of child support obligation – see, Simmons v. Simmons, 288 Ga. 670, 706 S.E.2nd 456 (2011).Summary:
Husband owned 23 percent of the stock of a subchapter S waterproofing company. (A subchapter S designation means pass through liability, the shareholders, instead of the corporation itself, are required to report their proportionate share of taxable business income and pay the proper federal income taxes thereon). The trial court found that, for the purposes of calculation of gross income under O.C.G.A. section 19-6-15, husband’s gross monthly income was $10,000 appx., made up of $5800 in wages, $2300 in K-1 income, and $2300 in K-1 income, and $2800 in fringe benefits. The fringe benefits included a $1200 truck payment and coverage of vehicle expenses, including gas, tags, ins. and repairs, payments of cell phone bills and use of company credit card for meals and social activities.
Husband argued on appeal that his K-1 income should not be considered as it is merely a bookkeeping entry and not actual income. Supreme Court shot this argument down, citing Appling v. Tatum, 295 Ga. App. 78, 670 S.E.2nd 795 (2008). Husband also argued fringe benefits were improperly considered. He lost this argument as well.
Practice Tip: when preparing a financial affidavit for a self employed client, you should address all prospective sources of income, including averaged K-1 income, whether “phantom” or not, and prepare in advance to make arguments regarding, include any corp. fringe benefits that reduce ordinary living expenses (car payments, food, gas, cell phone), and back out employer paid standard benefits such as health ins. premiums and contributions to retirement plans.