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Modifying And Enforcing Custody Orders Or Support Obligations

Circumstances may change after the court issues a final order for child custody, child support or alimony. In some cases, this may mean the original amount of child support awarded is no longer appropriate or the custody arrangement no longer represent the best interests of a child. Fortunately, Georgia family courts recognize these realities and allow you to petition to modify child custody and support under qualifying circumstances. If you are not receiving the amount of the court-ordered child support, you can also initiate actions to obtain the full amount owed under the court’s order, including any past due amounts.

Representation That Takes Your Unique Situation Into Account

Obtaining a modification is not a simple matter of filing a form or one spouse claiming they cannot afford to continue making payments. The Law Office of Catherine Verdery Ryan provides tailored legal representation to people seeking to modify and enforce existing family court orders. Ms. Ryan takes the time to get to know you and your family so she can provide informed guidance regarding the best way forward for you.

If you would like to speak to an experienced family law attorney about modifying an existing court order or how to get your ex-spouse to pay child support, call her office at 706-251-7612.

The Legal Basics Of Custody And Support Modifications

Because part of the role of a family law attorney is to provide you with the information you need to reach your goals, you are also welcome to read more about Georgia law regarding modifications and enforcement below:

  • Modifying child support. Upon showing a substantial change in either parties’ financial circumstances, child support can be modified or adjusted either upward or downward. If the court finds that there has been a substantial change that justifies a child support modification, the court then adjusts the child support just as if it was a new child support determination.
  • Changing alimony obligations. Alimony can be modified where there has been a substantial financial change of circumstances of either party. All types of alimony are not modifiable and this should be discussed with your attorney. Although the court will use the “substantial change of circumstances test” to decide upon a modification of alimony, just as in an initial award of alimony, there is no specific calculation for determining whether alimony should be modified and by how much.
  • Contempt of court actions. When a party disobeys or fails to comply with a court order, whether temporary or permanent, they may be held in contempt of court. The courts have the power to punish the offender in several ways, including monetary penalties, payment of the attorney’s fees to the party bringing the action and even forcing the party to serve time in jail.
  • Child custody modifications. Similarly to child support, custody arrangement can be modified with a significant change in circumstances. In determining whether to modify child custody, the factors involved are similar to those in an initial child custody determination. However, the party bringing the action has the burden of proving the need for a change in custody or visitation. Therefore, a change in custody can be more difficult than an initial award of custody.

Do I Have To Go To Court To Modify A Custody Or Support Agreement?

If both parents are in agreement on the terms of a new custody arrangement, a stipulated modification can be filed with the court without a court appearance. If either parent is contesting the custody modification, a court appearance is usually required. Modifying a child support agreement can only be done through a court proceeding.

If I Start Having My Children Spend More Time With Me, Can I Get A Reduction In My Child Support Payment?

Technically, the answer to this question is yes. However, you must get a modification to both the custody agreement and the support agreement. If the court determines that you are motivated by money rather than a true interest in being more involved in your children’s lives, the court will not grant your request.

Delay Can Be Costly

Keep in mind the court orders for child support and alimony are not modified retroactively. This means the court can only modify the child support order once you file a petition. Therefore, it is important to obtain the assistance of an attorney after a substantial change in circumstances so that an order modifying the child support and alimony can be put in place as soon as possible. Simply failing to pay can result in significant legal problems.

Questions On Modifications? We Are Here To Help.

Catherine Ryan will discuss with you whether a substantial change has occurred in order to determine the likelihood that a modification of child support is possible. To speak with a noted Augusta lawyer, contact her office by phone at 706-251-7612 or fill out this brief online intake form and we will reply promptly.

We only practice in the state of Georgia.