In Georgia, whether your divorce Agreements is resolved through a Settlement Agreement or with a final trial, the terms of the divorce will ultimately become an Order of the Court. Court Orders in divorce cases can be modified in limited circumstances. You can only bring a modification once every two years so keep this in mind when deciding whether to file a modification. Any modification of these Orders must be done prospectively. This means that the Court can only modify these Orders from the date of the filing of a petition. The Court cannot retroactively modify Court Orders. Any agreements to modify a Court Order must be in writing, executed by both parties and entered by the Court as an Order or such an agreement is not binding.
If a parent who has been awarded custody under a custody order of any type intends to move to a residence that is outside the state or a considerable distance from your home, the Court may consider the wisdom of the move. Do not wait until after the move to discuss this issue with an attorney. In Georgia, you must give at least thirty (30) days advance notice to your former spouse. Your settlement agreement may have additional requirements.
Orders of the Court regarding division of property are not modifiable at any future date. They can be changed only by amending the Final Decree, an appeal to the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court of Georgia, or by written agreement signed by both parties and filed with the court as an order.
In Georgia, the courts follow specific rules when determining whether to grant a post-divorce order modification. Some are as follows:
Custody rights: Courts in Georgia will only review a child custody agreement if there has been a significant change in your family’s circumstances. A substantial change in circumstances includes the moving of a parent, remarrying of any spouse, abuse or any criminal activity.
Visitation rights: You can request a family law court to review your existing parent visitation rights after every two years. Courts may modify visitation rights even without a significant change in circumstances.
Child support: Family court in Georgia mainly bases the early child support calculation on the earnings of both spouses. If those income levels have changed meaningfully, then you may be able to have your child support payments reduced. It is important to remember that this modification procedure can take up to 6 months of time.
When does it make sense to request a modification?
Other than a noteworthy change in circumstances, one of the most common reasons people may want to request a post-divorce order modification is due to a change in income.
Specifically, Court Orders for child support, periodic alimony and rehabilitative alimony (but not lump sum alimony) may be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in you or your spouse’s financial circumstances, or your children’s circumstances. Some other reasons that may prompt an appeal for modification include conflicts in the guardian’s home or if the fundamental needs of your child have changed over time.
Achieving a post-divorce modification can be difficult. To put you in a better position for a successful outcome, it can be beneficial to speak with an experienced attorney like CW Law who has a comprehensive understanding of divorce modifications.