Explaining Child Support Modification
When it comes to paying and receiving child support, they are subject to change and are not necessarily permanent. Whenever either party has experienced a significant change in circumstances, it may warrant a child support modification. Such a modification refers to a change in how much someone pays or receives. Either parent has the right to request a modification of child support when there has been a substantial change in their circumstances, or the circumstances of the other parent.
Every state handles child support laws a little differently. In Georgia, there are a number of reasons why the courts may consider modifying child support; however, the burden of proof will be on the petitioning party. In Georgia, a judge may consider increasing or decreasing child support for the following reasons:
• The paying party involuntarily loses their job or falls ill;
• Either parent receives additional income through remarriage;
• Cost of living increase;
• Physical disability on behalf of either parent;
• The needs of the child increase;
• A significant increase in the income of the paying parent; and
• A change in custody of the child; for instance, the child moves in with the paying parent.
In any case, it is up to the petitioning party to establish that there has been a significant change in circumstances in order to get an upward or downward modification. Keep in mind that in order for a change to take effect, you must get a court order from the judge. Even if there is a verbal agreement between you and your ex, it will not be legally binding. You would still be expected to pay child support even if your child moved in with you.
Child support can be a heated issue, especially if you are the paying party. One very important fact to keep in mind is that child support is not retroactive. What does this mean to you? If there is a significant change in your circumstances; for instance, if you lose your job, you can’t go back to the court months later after the lay-off and ask them to reduce your arrearages. You are legally responsible for the entire amount until a judge officially agrees to a downward or upwards modification. Therefore, time is of the essence. Whenever you experience a substantial change in your circumstances, the sooner you apply for a modification, the better.
In Georgia, there are circumstances where the court may award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party, regardless of who filed the case. Whether or not the court awards attorneys fees will be on a case-by-case basis; however, it is entirely possible that attorney’s fees may be awarded. Since downward and upward modifications are usually very important to the petitioning party, it is always a good idea to discuss your situation with an attorney before moving forward. If you have a strong case, a lawyer can help you gather all the necessary supporting documentation to prove your case in front of the judge.