Modifications in Child Support or Spousal Support
Following an Atlanta divorce, it could be necessary to revisit child support or spousal support amounts due to changes in the financial situation of one party. However, requesting a modification of support is not easy. It takes considerable paperwork and evidence, and your ex may fight this modification every step of the way. Fortunately, an experienced Atlanta divorce attorney can make this process easier.
Modifications in Spousal Support
In Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia, spousal support can be modified for two reasons:
- Either party has had a significant change in their financial or health status. The paying ex-spouse could have lost their job, retired, or suffered a significant illness or injury. The receiving ex-spouse could have obtained a much better paying job, lost their current job, or suffered a significant illness or injury.
- The receiving ex-spouse is voluntarily cohabitating continuously with another party in a romantic or sexual relationship.
If you are the party requesting the modification, you must have evidence of the change in income or financial status, illness, or cohabitation. A modification based on the cohabitation of the receiving spouse is known as the “live-in lover” law in Georgia and allows the paying spouse to request a downward modification of alimony payments—or cessation of those payments.
When changes in financial situations occur, the court will generally only consider a 25 percent change as significant. A modification of spousal support may usually not be requested within two years of the original order, although there are exceptions.
Modifications to Child Support
Modifications to child support are also based on a substantial change in the financial status of either parent or a substantial increase in the financial needs of the child. If a child’s education, medical, or childcare costs suddenly increase, the receiving parent may ask for a modification of the current child support amount. If the child’s needs result in a cost decrease, the paying parent can ask the court to decrease the amount of child support.
As with spousal support, two years must have passed from the initial determination of the amount of child support, or from the last request for modification unless:
- The request is based on an involuntary loss of income, or
- Court-ordered visitation has not been exercised by the non-custodial parent
- The non-custodial parent has significantly more visitation than court ordered
If there has been a substantial change in either parent’s income or financial status, the parent requesting the modification must be able to prove this change. If the modification is based on increasing or decreasing needs of the child, then this must also be proven to the court. The parent who prevails in a modification case may be awarded attorney’s fees and other expenses associated with litigation, regardless of who filed the modification request.
If the court does award a modification of child support, it is generally not retroactive to the time the modification request was filed, but rather goes into effect on the date of the order that establishes the modification.
If your financial situation—or that of your child’s other parent—has significantly changed, or if your child’s financial needs have increased, contact an experienced Atlanta family lawyer to assist you with a modification. Your attorney can file the necessary paperwork on your behalf to seek the relief you need.