- Created in 2005 by statute to ensure Georgia is in compliance with Federal Regulations and to make recommendations to the legislature regarding child support (O.C.G.A. § 19-6-50).
- Governor appoints 15 unpaid members of the Commission by executive order to four-year terms (except for State Representatives and Senators) as defined in (O.C.G.A. § 19-6-51).
- Chairperson is appointed by Governor. Chairperson elects officers, designates and appoints committees as needed to conduct business. Only votes to break a tie
- Current List of Commission Members
- Commission meetings are held as called by Chairpersons or Governor.
- The Commission is staffed administratively to the Department of Human Services, However, an inter-agency contract allows it to be staffed and housed at the Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).
- The duties and responsibilities are defined in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-53,
- The primary mechanism for ensuring compliance are the quadrennial Child Support Guidelines Reviews.
- Commission created and maintains an online calculator for use by the public and Court.
- They also hold training sessions with stakeholders around the state.
- Elaine Johnson is the Commission’s Program Manager. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Her phone number is (404)463-6383.
- The Commission is made up of the Governor’s political appointees who have no accountability to the hundreds of thousands of Georgians affected by their decisions.
- With ten of the eleven current non-legislative appointees being attorneys, it should be of no surprise that their view of child support is based on a narrow legalistic approach that fails to understand that children need more than just financial resources.
- With five of the fifteen appointees being judges, it has lead to a preoccupation with placating judges instead of ensuring fairness for all parties.2
- The quadrennial Child Support Guidelines Reviews have raised several systemic issues with the current Guidelines. They include: 1. Lack of sufficient case data 2. Excessive high deviation rate 3. Failure to reduce high number of deviations by incorporating a presumptive parenting-time adjustment (like 30 other states have done). 4. Georgia being one of two states that does not have a presumptive low income adjustment.
- Georgia has one of the highest child support obligation schedules in the nation for gross income from $800 – $15,000.
- Yet the Commission has been slow to act on this issues.1
- O.C.G.A. § 19-6-51 should be updated to ensure that there a diverse group of stakeholders (custodial parent, non-custodial parent, children mental health professional) are represented on the Commission. Look at Nebraska.
- O.C.G.A. § 19-6-51 should be updated to reduce the number of judges from five to three.
- To facilitate the collection of case data, the Commission should recommendation that Georgia established an automatic system that collects important case information.
- Look at the Commission members for Nebraska
- The latest attempt to ‘study’ issues like parenting time and low income has resulted in 20-30 person committees stacked with attorneys and representatives from the child support bureaucracy who are more interested in maintaining the status quo than admitting the system needs reform.
- The number of sampled cases (with 184 cases in 2018) is completely inadequate. In comparison, other states like Pennsylvania sample thousands of cases.
- The analysis of the data by the Commission is inadequate.
- Child support is a delicate balance between the needs of the children and parents. Commission ignores this balance in two ways: Calculator and Legislation.
- Most states recognize it and create calculators that try to instill some sense of fairness. In Georgia, simplicity (not fairness) is the overall driving force behind the calculator. The calculator needs to be easy to use by Courts – not really fair for everyone else.
- Legislative changes are often driven by an effort to placate judges. Because several judges complained that they couldn’t increase child support with a parenting time deviation, the Commission decided to recommend to the legislature that a parenting time deviation could be upward or downward. The Commission should have explained that the basic child support obligation table does not have any adjustment for non-custodial parenting time. Therefore, it was unfair to allow for an upward deviation.