Oftentimes, circumstances for one or both parents can change after a divorce is finalized. This can make the child support and child custody arrangements established at the time of the divorce unfeasible. Fortunately, you do have the option to petition the court for a modification to your child support payments or child custody arrangements, should this ever occur. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and see how our family lawyers can help you obtain a modification.
A modification can be used to change established child custody arrangements, visitation rights, and child support payments. Any person who is affected by court orders involving these matters can petition for a modification by filing the appropriate paperwork with the court that entered the original order.Child Custody Modification
You can only request a modification to child custody arrangements in Georgia when there has been a significant change in family circumstances since the original order was filed, and it will only be granted if the court feels the modification is in the best interest of the child. Significant changes in circumstances include a parent remarrying, engaging in criminal activity, or abusing drugs and alcohol. Courts in Georgia will always hear a modification request if custodial parent is changing residences, as the change in residence may not be in the best interest of a child.
When a child turns 14, they are allowed to request to live with a different parent, which can also be used as grounds for a modification to child custody arrangements. Although the judge will consider the child's preference, they will only grant their request if they feel it is in their best interest. The court may assign a guardian ad litem to represent your minor child at a modification hearing.Visitation Modification
Parents are allowed to petition the court to modify visitation or parenting time once every two years following the initial entry of judgment. Note that you do not have to demonstrate a change in circumstances in order to request a modification to your visitation rights or parenting time. As long as you petition the court in a timely manner, they will hear your request for a visitation modification.Child Support Modification
If you or your former spouse experiences a change in financial circumstances, you are permitted to petition the court for a decrease or increase in child support owed. In order to obtain a modification to child support, a parent must prove that there has been a significant change to either parent's financial status or a child's financial needs since the original child support order was filed. You can file a request for modification at any time once the original child support order is filed.
Substantial changes to financial circumstances can include a parent losing a job or experiencing a significant decrease or increase in income, a child having additional medical needs, a decrease in the financial needs of a child (for example, the child no longer needing to attend daycare), or an increase in a child's educational needs (such as personal tutoring or enrollment in a private school). This change in circumstances must occur between the date of the divorce decree or previous modification request and the filing of the new request.
Generally, you can only petition the court for a child support modification once every two years. However, there are circumstances where the two-year limitation does not apply. If the non-custodial parent failed to exercise court-ordered visitation or exercised more visitation than what the court ordered, or if the request for modification is based off a parent's involuntary loss of income, then you are not required to abide by the two-year limit when asking for another modification.Our Family Law Attorneys Can Help
If you believe that your or your spouse’s prior child custody, visitation rights, or child support arrangements may need to be modified due to a change in life circumstances, the Don Turner Legal Team can help. Contact our experienced family law attorneys today and see how we can help you obtain the modification that best suits your situation.