The Parenting Time deviation is one of the most common deviations made to presumptive child support amounts in Georgia. Just like deviations based on extraordinary educational expenses paid by one or both parents or based on life insurance purchased by one or both parents, parenting time deviations are non-mandatory deviations and are strictly discretionary. This means that unlike the adjustments or deviations based on the purchase of health insurance or the payment or work related child care costs, the presiding judge in a matter involving the determination of child support is not required to incorporate this deviation into the child support calculation. See O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(i)(1)(A).
As briefly discussed in our article entitled “Non-mandatory Deviations from Presumptive Child Support Amount,” the Parenting Time deviation is a change made to the presumptive child support amount when that amount would either be excessive or inadequate due to the amount of time a particular parent spends with the child or children involved. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i)(2)(K). For example:
Mother is the non-custodial parent and Father is the custodial parent. Mother is ordered to pay child support to Father. Mother and Father share a joint physical custodial arrangement in which both Mother and Father spend equal amounts of time with their child, Daughter. Seeing that Mother spends an equal amount of time with Daughter as Father does, Mother will very likely be able to seek a downward deviation in child support so that she is able to adequately provide for Daughter during her parenting time.
It is important to note that unlike some other non-mandatory deviations, the Parenting Time Deviation can only be made in favor of the non-custodial parent. See generally O.C.G.A. §§19-6-15(i)(2)(K) and 19-6-15(g). In fact, when completing a child support worksheet, line 13, which is the line in which the Parenting Time deviation is to be placed, will only allow an entry to be made in the non-custodial parent’s column. The graphic example blow exemplifies this. Only the yellow field, which is in the Mother’s column, will allow entry.
Additionally, unlike the mandatory adjustments or deviations, the Parenting Time deviation is treated as a deduction or a “dollar for dollar deviation.” Again, using the example above, if Mother’s presumptive child support amount was $1,000 per month, a $200 deviation based on parenting time would result in her having a final child support obligation of $800 per month.