Child Support & Custody for High Earners

3 minutes

For many Georgia families, the state’s approach to determining child support works adequately. At its most basic, the income shares model approximates the overall family costs for the children based on the parents’ combined income, which includes: housing, food, tuition, medical expenses and childcare. That amount is then prorated based on the parents’ incomes, with the parent paying child support to the other parent. If it requires adjusting, the court can make those adjustments, for instance lowering the payments of the higher earning parent if he or she already cares for the kids more of the time.

With high-net-worth families, such calculations are often used as an initial guide for the court. Family expenses may be much higher than presumed amounts, with private school tuition, sports and lesson fees, nanny salaries, and vacation and camp expenses. Sometimes, the parents’ income levels are also substantially different, as with a high-earner and a stay-at-home parent. Without proper attention during the divorce, one parent could end up with an unreasonable financial burden—or face the difficult choice of sacrificing comforts to which a child may be accustomed.

Creating a child support plan

In every divorce with children, the court aims to ensure children see both parents and have a relationship with them, and child support plays an important role.

The parenting plan will determine physical and legal custody and visitation including summer and holidays. If parents are unable to reach an agreement, the court ultimately makes a plan based on the best interests of the children.

Parents also have the ability to create their own child support plan before the court makes a plan on their behalf. No matter how contentious the divorce, it is critical for high-earning families to collaborate at this stage in order to ensure the impact on the children is minimized as much as possible.

Prenuptial agreements have no bearing on child custody or child support.

Child support considerations for high-net-worth families

When creating a child support plan, it is important to be as detailed as possible. Otherwise, you can end up trying to fund a lifestyle your children are accustomed to but that you cannot afford, or, conversely, wind up shouldering an unfair percentage of the financial burden. Here are few considerations families should keep in mind:

  • Tuition: While you cannot force your ex to keep paying private school tuition forever, you can provision for educational expenses during your divorce. If your kids are accustomed to their private school and have thrived there, this is an important consideration.
  • College: The court will not impose child support beyond age 18 or past high school graduation, so parents expecting to share the financial responsibility of college tuition and expenses should plan ahead. Parents can agree that child support will continue through college or decide how their expenses will be paid.
  • Childcare and activities: For younger children, parents will need to discuss nanny or au pair salaries or preschool costs. As children grow, sports fees and the cost of lessons and tutoring must also be considered.
  • Travel and experiences: If the children are accustomed to travel or if parents live far away from each other, parents need to decide who will pay for these experiences and travel expenses.
  • Medical expenses: Like all families, parents will have to consider how to pay for their children’s uncovered medical expenses, especially if a child has special needs or other known costs.

Child support modifications are possible after a time as needs or resources change. Remarriage or sudden job loss will also open up the possibility of a change. The court will view parents who try to purposefully decrease their income in order to pay lower child support unfavorably.

Schedule your consultation today with an Atlanta family lawyer 

Determining child support can be complex for high-net-worth families. The divorce attorneys at Marple Family Law have years of experience working with clients who have complicated family expenses. We can help you move through the process in a way that’s least disruptive to the kids involved. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to move your divorce forward as efficiently and effectively as possible.