After a divorce is finalized, it’s not uncommon for one or both parents to request a modification of their divorce order, especially when issues arise involving child custody.Over time, circumstances can change, affecting the financial and personal situations of families and the true needs of the parties and their children. However, it’s important to note that modifications to a divorce agreement in Georgia are only permitted under certain circumstances

Issues that may be Modified in a Divorce Agreement in Georgia

Only certain aspects of a divorce order can be modified under Georgia law. They include the following: 

When significant changes occur in any of these areas, such as a change in circumstances or the best interests of the child, seeking a modification may be necessary. 

Making Changes to a Georgia Child Custody Agreement

If there have been significant changes in circumstances affecting the well-being and best interests of the child, such as a parent’s relocation, a change in the child’s needs, a change in one of the parent’s schedules, or concerns regarding the child’s safety, a modification to the child custody arrangement may be necessary. The court will consider what is in the child’s best interests when determining custody modifications.

Modifying Visitation Schedules in Georgia

Modifications to visitation schedules and parenting time may become necessary in various circumstances. Changes in work schedules, relocation, or the child’s evolving needs and activities can all impact the feasibility and effectiveness of the existing visitation arrangements. For instance, if a parent’s work schedule changes significantly, making it difficult to adhere to the current visitation schedule, a modification may be sought to ensure consistent and meaningful time between the child and both parents. Additionally, if a parent needs to relocate to a different city or state, adjustments to the visitation schedule may be necessary to accommodate the increased distance. Furthermore, as children grow older, their extracurricular activities, school commitments, or changing routines may require modifications to the parenting time arrangements to ensure that the child’s best interests and overall well-being are prioritized. When seeking a modification of visitation schedules and parenting time, it is crucial to consult with a family law attorney to navigate the legal process and determine the most suitable arrangement that serves the child’s needs while respecting the rights and responsibilities of both parents.

Adjusting Your Child Support Order

Modifications to child support in Georgia may be warranted when there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of either parent or the needs of the child. For example, if a parent experiences a significant increase or decrease in income due to a job change, loss of employment, or promotion, it may be appropriate to seek a modification to ensure that the child support amount aligns with the current financial situation. Similarly, if the child’s needs change, such as in cases of increased medical expenses or educational costs, a modification may be necessary to ensure adequate financial support. 

It is crucial to emphasize that only a court order can change the amount of child support payments legally obligated by a party. Parental agreement alone is insufficient to decrease or increase the child support payments beyond the court’s order. Child support is considered the right of the child, not the custodial parent.

Understanding the Process of Modifying Spousal Support in Georgia.

When circumstances change after a divorce in Georgia, modifications to spousal support may be necessary. Various factors can prompt a need for adjustment, such as a significant change in either party’s financial situation or the completion of a specified time period for support. For instance, if the recipient spouse experiences a substantial increase in income or remarries, it may warrant a modification or termination of alimony. Similarly, if the paying spouse encounters financial hardship or a decrease in income, they may seek a reduction in their support obligations. However, modifications to alimony and spousal support must typically be approved by the court and require demonstrating a substantial change in circumstances. It is also important to note that if the parties have agreed to non-modifiable spousal support in their divorce decree, a modification of support cannot be sought after divorce.  Consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney in Georgia is crucial to understand the legal requirements, navigate the process, and advocate for a fair and appropriate modification to alimony and spousal support obligations.

Navigating Post-Judgement Modifications in Georgia

Generally speaking, In Georgia, each parent can only initiate a legal action for the modification of child support orders once every two years from the date of the final decree or any subsequent modification. There are three exceptions to this two year rule: (1) If the non-custodial parent has failed to exercise court ordered visitation; (2) if the non-custodial parent has exercised more visitation than provided in the court order; or (3) the modification action is based upon an involuntary loss of income. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(k)(2)(A) – (C). Importantly, the filing of a modification action by one parent does not impact or restrict the other parent’s ability to bring their own modification action. In other words, both parents maintain the right to seek a modification independently, regardless of whether the other parent has already filed or is planning to file a modification request. This provision ensures that each parent has an equal opportunity to address any substantial changes in their financial circumstances or the child’s needs that may warrant a modification of child support. It’s important to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific rules and procedures governing child support modifications in Georgia and to ensure that any modifications are handled appropriately through the legal system. 

Having an experienced divorce and family law attorney by your side is crucial when navigating post-judgment modifications in Georgia. The intricacies of the legal process and the potential impact on child support orders require professional guidance to ensure that everything is handled appropriately within the legal system. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand the specific rules and procedures governing different types of modifications in Georgia, making sure that your rights are protected and you get the outcome you are looking for. If you need to make a modification to an existing court order contact one of the experienced Georgia divorce and family law attorneys.