Changing Child Support Amounts after Your Case is Over - Modification
If you're looking to change your child support amount in Georgia, it's important to understand the process of modification. Unlike other states, modifying child support in Georgia requires starting a new court action. This means you won't be able to simply agree with the other parent on the new amount - you'll need a court order to make it official. Keep in mind that paying a different amount without a court order can lead to legal complications down the line. Ultimately, if your ex changes their mind, they can come after you for any child support owed from back underpayments - and they can collect it even after the child being supported is over the age of 18. Overall, modification may seem like a challenging process, but with the proper guidance, it can lead to a fair and sustainable child support arrangement for both parties involved.
Overview of Enforceability of Child Support Orders in Georgia
When it comes to child support in Georgia, the court takes enforcement seriously. It's not just a suggestion, but a requirement to pay the amount listed in your original child support award until a future court order states otherwise. However, if there are changes in your or the other parent's income or financial status, or changes to the needs of the child, you can ask the court to consider changing your child support amount. It's important to note that you can only do this once every two years, unless there are extenuating circumstances. While navigating child support can be complex, the court system strives to create fair and reasonable solutions for all parties involved.
Modification of Child Support - General
As a parent, ensuring that your children's needs are met is always a top priority. In Georgia, if you wish to modify your child support order, you must first demonstrate a substantial change in either parent's income and financial status or in the needs of the child. This means that you may need to provide evidence of factors such as a job loss, substantial pay increase, or unexpected expenses related to your child's healthcare or education. After you demonstrate this substantial change for modifying child support, it's important to note that there is typically a two-year waiting period before you can ask the court to hear your case. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that can expedite the process. For instance, if the noncustodial parent has failed to exercise court-ordered visitation or exceeded the amount of visitation provided in the court order, you may be eligible to file your child support modification action immediately. Additionally, if the modification is based on an involuntary loss of income, you may also be able to bypass the two-year requirement. While navigating the legal process of modifying child support can be challenging, it is important to remain focused on the well-being of your child. If you are unsure where to start, consider seeking the assistance of a legal professional who can guide you through the process.
Modification Due to Loss of Income
In Georgia, it's important to know that you have the right to request a modification of your child support payments before the two-year mark if you've experienced a loss of income. However, it's important to understand that this only applies if the loss of income is involuntary - you won't be able to make a case for a modification if you've voluntarily left your job without good cause. Some circumstances that can qualify as an involuntary loss of income include being fired, losing a significant number of hours, being involved in an organized strike, experiencing a loss of health, or being incarcerated. If any of these situations apply to you and you've experienced a loss of income by 25% or more, it's worth seeking legal advice on how to approach the court to request a child support modification. Additionally, if this does apply to you, and you immediately file a petition for modification of child support based upon this involuntary loss of income, then that portion of child support attributable to lost income shall not accrue from the date of the service of that petition - provided the service is properly made made on the other parent.
Court Actions of Child Support Modification
When it comes to modifying child support in Georgia, it's important to follow the proper procedures. Any requests for changes to child support must be filed with the court as a new case and officially served to the other parent. If the court agrees that a modification is necessary, a temporary adjustment may occur until the case is fully resolved. Keep in mind that the court has the authority to adjust that temporary amount at any point during the case, so it's important to stay up-to-date on all court proceedings.
A jury trial is allowed in these kinds of child support cases, if requested from the start, but the jury is only responsible for determining a parent's gross income and any deviations - they do not decide the final child support amount. The judge is in charge of taking what the jury decides as "fact" regarding income and deviations, and then applying the Child Support Guidelines to the case, to determine the actual new child support amount - if any. Testimony at these hearings may be given and evidence introduced relative to the change of circumstances, income and financial status of either parent, or in the needs of the child. After hearing the parties and the evidence, the court is allowed to, but does not have to, modify and revise the previous child support award, in accordance with the changed circumstances, income and financial status of either parent, or in the needs of the child. But only if such change or changes are satisfactorily proven so as to warrant the modification and revision and if those are in the child's best interest.
While it may seem daunting, following the proper procedures ensures that all parties are treated fairly and that the child's best interests are prioritized.
Court Costs and Attorney's Fees
In Georgia, the court has the power to award attorney's fees, costs, and expenses of litigation to the winning party in a child support modification case - however, it is not obligated to in every circumstance. Basically, the court will look and see if the interest of justice require one party to pay the other party's court costs. However, in situations when a custodial parent successfully obtains an upward modification of child support due to the noncustodial parent's failure to comply with court-ordered visitation, the court is then required to award reasonable and necessary attorney's fees and expenses of litigation to the custodial parent. While this may not alleviate all of the stress and difficulty that comes with a child support case, it is an important factor to consider when seeking justice for your children.
How We Can Help
At Your Law Firm, we understand that navigating the legal system can be a complex and overwhelming experience, especially when it comes to issues related to child support. That is why we are committed to using our legal expertise to help you through every step of the process. Our team understands that your child support award is critical to ensuring the best interests of your child. However, it is not uncommon for situations to change, and modifications can be necessary to ensure that your child's needs are met. We will be with you every step of the way, advising you and advocating to protect your rights and secure the best outcome for you and your family.