Steps To Modify Your Family Law Order
Going through a divorce or another family law issue in Georgia is often difficult and complex, and ideally, you will not need to return to court once your case is finalized and a court order is in place. Sometimes, however, issues can arise after a divorce or child custody case is finalized that may change your ability to pay alimony, child support, or that may affect certain parenting issues. When circumstances change, it may be necessary to modify an existing order or decree. What steps will you need to take in order to modify a divorce order? The specifics will depend upon the particular facts of your case and whether your ex is in agreement with the modification. In general, however, the following are the steps that are typically involved in a modification in Georgia.
Determine Whether You Can Seek a Modification
Before you move forward with any petition to modify an existing alimony, child custody, or child support order in Georgia, you will need to determine whether you can meet the legal requirements to seek a modification. If you are trying to change an existing physical custody or parenting time arrangement, you may be able to do so if two years have passed since the prior order was entered. Otherwise, in most cases, you will need to be able to show that a substantial or significant change in circumstances has occurred. What constitutes a major change in circumstances will depend on the case and the type of order you are seeking to change. An Atlanta family law attorney can assist you.
File a Petition for the Modification
Once you have determined that you may be eligible to seek a modification, you will need to file a modification petition. You should work with a lawyer to ensure that you file the correct modification petition based on the part of your divorce order or decree that you would like to modify. Modification petitions can be filed for alimony, child custody, parenting time, and child support, but property settlement is not modifiable.
Gather Evidence to Show that a Modification is Appropriate
Next, you will need to gather evidence to show that a modification is appropriate. The type of evidence you will need, as we noted above, will depend upon the kind of modification you are seeking and the reason you are asking the court for the modification. In order to modify alimony, you will usually need to show that your own income has undergone a substantial change and that you cannot continue to pay the alimony amount indicated in the order, or that your ex-spouse who is receiving alimony is making substantially more and no longer needs the alimony or has begun cohabitating with a new partner. To modify child support, you will need to show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred either to parental income or to the needs of the child.
Differently, to change child custody, Georgia law requires the petitioning parent to prove that a “material change of condition or circumstances” necessitates the modification. This language is relatively broad, and it can include a variety of circumstances that may require a modification to existing child custody. For example, you might have gotten a job offer out of state, or your work schedule might have shifted significantly. Or, for example, your child might require health care at a facility out of state that will necessitate a modification of parenting time. There are various situations that may constitute a material change of condition or circumstances. You should have an attorney assess your case.
Contact an Atlanta Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about modifications of alimony, child support, child custody, or any other aspect of your divorce order, you should get in touch with one of the experienced Atlanta family lawyers at Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French today for assistance.