Child support is a financial obligation a parent owes to their child, designed to help meet the child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare. Georgia law allows for child support orders to be modified under certain circumstances.
When Can Child Support Be Modified?
Courts recognize that life happens fast, and as children grow up, their needs evolve. Children may need to change who they live with or where they go to school. They may begin to learn a new skill that requires investment, like purchasing a musical instrument or woodworking tools. Children can seek opportunities like learning a trade, going to college, or studying abroad. They may get injured and need accommodation for a temporary or permanent disability.
In general, child support can be modified in Georgia if there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of the parent or the child’s needs. A substantial change can include:
A Parent’s Employment Changes
A change in income or employment status, such as a job loss, promotion, or retirement, could indicate a need for child support to be modified. A parent may no longer be able to pay the same amount as before, or they may be able to contribute more than they used to.
Cost of Living Increase
A change in the cost of living can warrant a change in child support. Rent may increase, a dietary need may require more expensive grocery items, or inflation may raise the cost of back-to-school shopping.
A sudden change in the child’s medical or educational needs may mean the custodial parent needs more child support. Medical bills, school expenses, and other unplanned financial burdens may require reassessing the current agreement.
Change in Living Arrangements
A change in the custodial arrangement will often warrant the child support agreement to be modified. A parent who previously paid for all their child’s food, housing, and day-to-day needs may require less child support if their child’s other parent takes on more custody time.
How to Modify Child Support
To modify child support in Georgia, you must file a petition with the court. The petition must state why you request a modification and the support you believe is appropriate. You must also provide the court with documentation to support your claims.
Once the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, both parents will have the opportunity to present their evidence. The court will then decide whether to modify the child support order and, if so, what the new amount of support should be.
Factors the Court Considers When Modifying Child Support
Every case is different, and things can change. When deciding whether to modify child support, the court will consider several factors, including:
- The current income and financial resources of both parents
- The needs of the child
- The current child support order
- The reasons why the modification is requested
The Two-Year Rule
Georgia law has a two-year rule for child support modifications, which means you cannot file a petition to modify child support more than once every two years unless there is an emergency.
There are a few exceptions to the two-year rule for child support modifications. For example, you can file a petition to modify child support if:
There has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of either parent or the needs of the child
The current child support order relies on false or inaccurate information
The current child support order is not fair or equitable
How to Gather Evidence for a Child Support Modification
If you are considering filing a petition to modify child support, gathering as much evidence as possible to support your claims is essential. Courts value evidence, and claims supported by documentation will typically have a better outcome.
Some types of evidence that you may want to gather include:
- Pay stubs
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Investment statements
- Medical bills
- Education expenses
- Childcare expenses
Tips for Modifying Child Support
Prepare to provide documentation to support your claims. Be honest and upfront with the court about your financial circumstances. Show you are willing to negotiate with the other parent. If you cannot agree with the other parent, be prepared to go to trial.
If you are considering filing a petition to modify child support, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is vital. A lawyer can help you understand the law and your rights and can represent you in court.
Who Will Represent Me in Court?
You can file a petition to modify child support independently or through the Georgia Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). If you file a petition through DCSS, a DCSS attorney will represent you in court. If you file a petition independently, you may want to hire a private attorney to review your unique case and best represent you.
How Much Will It Cost?
The cost of modifying child support will vary depending on the complexity of your case and whether you hire a family law attorney. Most attorneys offer low or no-cost consultations and can give you an estimate of how much you can expect to pay for the process.
Meet With A Family Law Attorney at Lunn Law LLC
You and your child deserve to receive adequate support. Lunn Law LLC. has years of experience helping clients seek the best possible outcome in child support cases. We will review the history of your situation to help explain your unique needs and tell your story to the court. Call us at 770-762-4628 to schedule a consultation with our team today.