Is it possible to modify a Georgia alimony or child support order?

When a Georgia court enters an order for alimony or child support, it is based on the financial status of the parties at the time. However, circumstances often change as time goes by. As people's situations change, it often becomes necessary to re-visit alimony and child support orders and adjust them to accurately reflect the needs and means of the parties. Georgia residents should be aware of some of the reasons for which they may petition the court to modify an alimony or child support order.

Change in income

A person may petition the court to modify an alimony or child support order if either party has experienced a "significant change" in income or financial status. In general, the court will consider a 25 percent change as significant. Many people ask the court to reduce their payments after an involuntary job loss or reduction in working hours. However, it is also possible for one spouse to ask the court to increase the other's support obligations if the other spouse sees an increase in income or financial status.

In general, a person may not petition for a modification of an alimony or child support order before two years have passed since the filing of the previous order. If a person experiences an involuntary job loss, however, he or she may ask for a modification of support obligations before two years have passed.

Change in a child's needs

Another reason a parent may ask for a modification of a child support order is if the child's needs change. If the child's care suddenly requires expenses that were not present at the time the court entered the original order, a parent may ask the court to modify the child support order so one parent is not baring all of those costs alone. Some examples of such situations include increased medical care costs, education costs or child care costs. Similarly, if a child's needs change such that costs decrease, a parent paying child support may ask the court to decrease support obligations.

Cohabitation

A spouse paying alimony may petition for a modification or termination of an alimony award if he or she can prove that the spouse receiving alimony is cohabitating with another. However, if the spouse fails to prove to the court that the other spouse is cohabitating, then that spouse will be responsible for paying the other's attorney's fees incurred during the defense of the alimony award.

Speak with an attorney

Modifying an existing court order can be complicated. It is often best to seek the assistance of an attorney in order to present the case to the court in the clearest manner possible and to ensure that all the relevant information is included for the court's consideration. If you have experienced a change in circumstances that requires modification of an alimony or child support order, speak with a skilled Georgia family law attorney with a thorough understanding of the analysis courts use when reviewing alimony and spousal support orders.