Modification of Support Obligations
More and more frequently, especially in the current economy, folks are having to seek relief from their Court ordered support obligations because of involuntary unemployment. If you lose your job, your Court ordered support obligations continues until you file a modification claim and you get before a judge to seek financial relief.
Modification of Alimony Obligations
Similary, if you are paying or receiving alimony, there may be reasons to seek a modification of alimony. A reduction of alimony may be appropriate where you have lost your job or been demoted, and/or when your former spouse is making significantly more money than they were at the time that alimony was first established. An increase in alimony may be appropriate where your former spouse is making signficantly more income then at the time alimony was established. In both of these cases, a legal action must be filed with the Court seeking to modify the terms of alimony.
Obligation to pay child support and/or alimony
You may be instructed to sell your car, sell other possessions, or liquidate any assets you may have, such as a retirement fund, stocks and bonds, to pay back child support or back alimony. If you cannot pay, you may find yourself in jail until you can come up with the entire amount. The result of being in jail could cost you your job or possibly even your career. If you find yourself unable to pay support, it is best to immediately seek a modification of child support and/or alimony.
Oftentimes, there may be a reason to file an action to seek a change of the physical custody of a child. Such scenarios would include, but not be limited to, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drug and/or alcohol addiction, or where the child indicates his or her desire to reside with another parent. At the age of 11, the Court may consider the expressed wishes of a child but may choose not to do so. At the age of 14, a child may sign an election stating with whom they desire to live, however, this signed election is not binding on the Court as the the Court ultimately makes all decisions regarding custody.
Modification of Visitation
Georgia law allows visitation to be modified two (2) different ways – 1) by motion with the Court without a showing of material change of circumstances, and 2) by bringing a new action in the county where the other parent resides showing that visitation should be modified because a material change of circumstances has occured.
In the first case, the parent does not have to show that there has been a material change of circumstances which would support a increase or decrease of visitation. An example of this type of modification would be where the child is getting older and desires more time with the child’s mother or father. These actions can only be brought every two (2) years from when visitation is first established by the court.
In the second case, the parent shows that visitation should be modified because a material change has occurred. Examples of this type of modification, would be where something has occured which possibly endangers the child such as a parent receiving a DUI, a parent having a violent partner, a parent failing to insure the child gets to school timely, etc. These actions may be brought at any time provided that a genuine material change of circumstances has occured.