Following a divorce, it is not unusual for one person to make support payments to a former spouse. The two common types of payments are maintenance (alimony) and child support payments. When determining if the payments are required, the court takes income, age of children, and length of marriage into account. If support payments are necessary, child support is typically collected until the child is 18 or graduates high school, and alimony payments are either permanent or temporary dependent upon the couple’s circumstances. In some circumstances, the individual responsible for making payments may be unable to afford the court ordered amount. When this occurs, understanding what to do if support payments are no longer affordable helps you avoid financial and legal disaster.
Request a Modification
Once you realize that court-ordered support payments are unreasonable or unaffordable, it is important that you request a modification immediately. Modifications are possible when an individual’s income changes drastically, he or she becomes disabled or imprisoned, the other parent’s income changes, a child moves, or a former spouse remarries and begins living with another adult. Requesting a modification places your case in front of the ruling judge or, in child support cases, Georgia Division of Child Support Services. When the Georgia Division of Child Support Services is involved a modification, requests may only be submitted once every three years unless a major change in either household has occurred.
Attend All Hearings
Georgia family court modification cases that go before a judge are usually heard by the same judge who issued the original order. Based on that judge’s schedule, getting a court date could take time or happen relatively quickly. Cases that are only being reviewed by Georgia Division or Child Support Services often take six months before a decision is made. During this time period the court will notify both parties of any hearings that are scheduled, and it is important to attend each hearing. Missing a hearing could result in a default judgement against you.
Remember to Bring Evidence
Simply showing up at a hearing is not all that you need to worry about. It is vital that you bring evidence with you that supports your stance. If you have recently taken a pay cut or lost a job, bring pay stubs or a letter of termination to court. Alternatively, if your modification is based on changes to your former spouse’s household or employment bring proof that supports your claim. It is better to be over prepared rather than under prepared especially if you are the person who needs to have support payments reduced or ended entirely.
Getting Professional Help
If you or someone you know desperately needs to have support payments modified, it is best to talk to a qualified family law attorney. When your financial future is at stake, it is vital that you have the best representation available to increase your chances of having a modification approved. The attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum have assisted with cases requiring child support or spousal support modification requests. With offices conveniently located in Alpharetta, Lawrenceville, Cummings, and Marietta, our law firm is able to assist you during this stressful time. Contact us today at 678-736-7700 to schedule a consultation to discuss your unique situation.