Smith v. Carter, A10A1760
*All courts mentioned are at the state level.
- The Court held that the trial court’s award to Mother of $70,224 in back support was an abuse of discretion, and that the trial court erred in refusing to consider the Child Support Guidelines of O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15 in its order regarding back-support.
- Mother had sued Father for past and future child support for the parties’ son, who had been born out of wedlock.
- The trial court found Father’s monthly income to be $2,222.80, and Mother’s to be $6,384.20.
- Pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines of O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15, the trial court calculated future support from Father to be $115.00 per month.
- Based on the evidence, the trial court calculated that Mother had spent $83,600.00 for the child’s care during the preceding 12 years.
- The court then subtracted 16% of that amount to represent Father’s visitation time with the child, and ordered Father to pay the entirety of the remaining amount ($70,224.00) as back child support.
- Father contends that the trial court failed to account for any financial support from the Mother, whose income was triple that of his.
- Father also points out that the current Child Support Guidelines only required a $115.00 monthly payment by him, which multiplied by 139 months (the time Mother sought back support) would amount to less than $16,000.00.
- The Court stated that the guidelines for computing the amount of child support found in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15 must be considered by any court in setting child support and “shall apply as a rebuttable presumption in all legal proceedings involving the child support responsibility of a parent.”
- The Court also noted that it is the joint and several duty of each parent of a child born out of wedlock to provide for the support of that child, and not the exclusive duty of either the father or the mother.
- Additionally, the Court clarified its holding in Weaver v. Chester, which held that the actual expenditures of the mother were the ceiling or maximum for a back support award, and by no means the minimum for such an award. Weaver outlined that regardless of a non-custodial parent’s ability to pay, the custodial parent can never be awarded back support for more than he or she actually spent.
- Samantha F. Jacobs for appellant
- William B. Johnson for appellee
Wayne Superior Court; Judge Ken W. Smith