Child Support Modification Process
From the time the court first establishes a child support order to the time a child reaches adulthood, parents may undergo significant personal changes, which may include changes to their income. The needs of the children may also change over time.
As life changes occur, the original child support order may no longer reflect the needs of the child or the resources of the parents. When circumstances change, Georgia law allows parents to petition for modification of child support, a process that involves formally changing the court order of child support.
If you have questions about child support modification, the experienced attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC are here to help and can guide you through the modification process. They can create a plan to help you navigate the complex child support system to arrive at the right amount of support for you and your child. Call us at (404) 688-8810 to speak to a member of our team.
Modifying Child Support in Georgia
Either parent may ask the court to modify a child support order. When a parent petitions for modification, child support payments may increase, decrease, or remain the same. A parent may modify child support by making a motion to the court or by requesting the Georgia Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to investigate and make a recommendation for a support order.
If there are significant changes in the income of either parent or the needs of the children, either parent may ask for a change in support at any time. A parent may also ask for a child support review every 36 months even without proof of a change in circumstances. Any of the following conditions may qualify as a significant change to modify a support order:
- A change in wages or other income for either parent
- The child turns 18
- A child now lives in a different home
- Either parent can provide health insurance for the child
- A parent becomes disabled
- Imprisonment of either parent
- Either parent receives TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits
- A parent has a windfall, such as winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance
Voluntary unemployment or underemployment does not justify a reduction in support. Also, changes in a parent’s personal expenses are generally not grounds for lowering or increasing a child support payment.
Deviating from the Child Support Formula in Georgia
While most child support orders follow the Georgia child support formula, there may be situations where following the worksheet produces an inappropriate result. When there are exceptional circumstances, the formulaic amount may not reflect the true needs of the children or the resources of the parents. Some of the circumstances in which it may not be appropriate to order the formulaic child support amount include:
- Shared or joint physical custody
- Either parent provides health or life insurance for the child
- Child care expenses are required so that a parent can work
- A parent has an unusually high income or has low or no earning capacity
- Extraordinary costs associated with travel for visitation
- Alimony payments that change the financial picture
- When the paying parent pays the mortgage on the home where the child resides
- A child is in or transitioning from foster care
- Education expenses
- Special expenses relating to the child’s needs
The Georgia Division of Child Support Services may review the case for special circumstances, and they may make a recommendation. However, DCSS caseworkers are not judges, and their decisions are not final. A caseworker may base their decision on only a brief review of the case without taking testimony from the parties. They may have biases that influence their judgment.
As a child support payer or recipient, all parents have the right to present their case to the judge. A family court judge can accept evidence, hear arguments, and make a decision about a modification of child support. Often, going before a judge is what it takes to arrive at the correct amount of child support. All parents have the right to representation by a skilled Georgia child support attorney in a hearing before a judge.
Georgia Attorneys for Child Support Modification
The way you go about pursuing your child support modification case can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. If you’re pursuing a child support modification or you must respond to a child support modification request, the child support attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC are here to assist you. Allow our team to examine your case and create a plan to help you reach your goals in the Georgia child support system. Call us at (404) 688-8810 to begin.