Often during a divorce proceeding or child support case, a child support order will be entered that states the amount of child support to be paid to the other parent. The purpose of these payments is for the parent ordered to pay to assist in the financial responsibilities necessary to care for the child. The amount ordered may not always be the amount that is required to be paid if a child support modification is granted. In Georgia, either parent may make a motion for a modification of child support.
In order for a child support order to be modified, there must be a substantial change in circumstances regarding the child’s needs or the parent’s financial situation. Next, parents must wait two years after filing a previous modification of child support in order to file a new request. However, a parent who has lost a job or suffered another hardship that resulted in a loss of at least 25% of that parent’s income may file for a modification immediately and avoid the two-year limit.
If the requirements previously listed have been met to file for a child support modification, the court will then reconsider the amount based on the child support guidelines. Under Georgia law, the income of both parents is included in the child support calculation. Under this approach, a court will determine the monthly gross income of both parents and may adjust that amount upward or downward to include various deductions and child-related expenses. These adjustments can include health related insurance, travel expenses, alimony, mortgage amount, and even parenting time. The final amount calculated is then allocated between the parents based on their respective incomes.
Only events that have occurred subsequent to the initial award will be relevant to the child support modification. Once a modification of child support is entered, the original rate will stop accruing. The portion of the parent’s support obligation attributable to his or her lost income will not build. Thus, debt will not continue to pile up.
It must be noted that only prospective child support payments can be modified and not arrears. If you are in need of child support that is in arrears, then you must instead initiate action to collect such child support. Also, even if you and your ex have a verbal agreement concerning changing the child support amount, it will not be enforceable by a court. Until a court modifies the original child support order, there is no obligation to pay an increased or decreased amount. If your ex fails to pay this new amount, there would not be a remedy under the original order to enforce the agreed-upon amount.
If you are contemplating modifying your child support order or your ex has initiated a modification, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. We will work with you to discuss your situation and explain the options that may be available to you in regards to child support modification.