Minority Report of the Georgia Commission on Child Support

 

Submitted to Georgia Governor Zell Miller

July 1, 1998

by R. Mark Rogers

Introductory Comment

Georgia has a peculiar model of child support guidelines. Reasonably, however,

Georgia’s guidelines are based on a percentage of income that varies according to the number of

children. But oddly, just the non-custodial parent’s income is considered and, even stranger, the

percentage is fixed for all levels of income and on a before-tax basis. In complete contrast to all

known economic studies on consumer spending behavior, application of Georgia’s guidelines

leads to the curious result that a non-custodial parent’s child support obligation rises as a share of

after-tax income. In turn, after-tax obligations become bizarrely high. For example, a before-tax

obligation for two children of 25 percent of obligor income translates into about a 40 percent

after-tax obligation for moderately high incomes.

Only about a dozen states use a percent of obligor-only income model. Even fewer use

one on a before-tax basis as Georgia does. Additionally, some of these states use an obligor-only

model that severely restricts application to a ceiling level of child support award. Georgia is one

of less than a handful of states that use such a simplistic, before-tax, income-of-obligor-only

model as it does. Notably and in contrast, about thirty-five states base their child support

guidelines on both parents’ income and have presumptive awards that decline as percentages of

combined income and take into account special needs at the poverty level. Curiously, the

Federal Advisory Panel on Child Support recommended against using the type of guidelines that

Georgia adopted in 1989 and currently uses. Curiously, Georgia’s guidelines go against the

recommendations of those conducting the original economic study allegedly underlying

Georgia’s guidelines. In contrast to popular myth, in most situations Georgia’s guidelines have

been shown statistically to leave the non-custodial parent with a lower standard of living than the

custodial parent household.

The Minority agrees, as discussed below, with the vast majority of attorneys surveyed for

this Commission that Georgia’s child support guidelines should be changed.

The report, as a PDF, can be found here:

 

https://westmichigandad.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/gaminority-rogers.pdf

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