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High Income Deviation
The High Income deviation is another one of Georgia’s non-mandatory deviations that may be made to presumptive child support amounts. This discretionary deviation is generally an upward deviation applied to the non-custodial parent’s child support amount when the parent’s combined adjusted gross income is greater than $30,000 per month. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i)(2)(A). The purpose of this deviation is to give courts presiding over matters involving the determination of child support the discretion to increase the amount of child support in cases where the parent’s combined income exceeds $30,000.
This discretion is necessary because Georgia’s Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations, which is pictured below, only lists child support obligations for combined incomes from $800.00 per month to $30,000 per month. Thus, it is sometimes necessary in matter involving high income parents for the presiding court to apply an upward deviation to ensure the amount of child support awarded is commensurate with the parents’ incomes.
Due to the limitations of the basic support obligation table, if this discretionary deviation is not included in the child support calculation in matters where the parents are considered high income, it likely that the resulting child support amount will be disproportionately low compared to the non-custodial parent’s monthly income. As can be seem in the graphic example below, even where the non-custodial Father earns $40,000 per month and the custodial Mother earns $20,000, the combined basic child support obligation for one child remains $2,236. This in turn results in the presumptive child support amount to be paid by Father equaling around $1,491.00 per month, which may be considered by a court as paltry compared to his monthly income.
To take advantage of this deviation, the parent seeking the deviation or the presiding court will enter either a positive or negative amount in the appropriate field online 2(b) of Schedule E representing the amount that is to be added or subtracted from the presumptive child support amount. This deviation has a direct impact on the presumptive child support amount. Thus, using the terms of our example above, if a deviation of $1000.00 was added to Father’s column, the child support amount would increase to $2441.00 per month.
It is important to note that the High Income deviation is not necessary or warranted in every matter where the parents are deemed high income parents, especially in matters where both parents are high income parents, and the custodial arrangement obviates the need for the deviation. Additionally, as with all of the other non-mandatory deviations, this deviation is discretionary, and will not automatically be granted or accepted by the court if requested. A presiding judge may, within his or her discretion, refuse to apply the deviation, or apply it in an amount different than that requested. See generally O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i)(2)(A).