When a judge issues an Order regarding chid custody or child support, the judge bases his/her opinion on the circumstances that are apparent at that time.
But as children age and families evolve, existing child custody and parenting time arrangements may no longer be appropriate. To address these changes, you can request a modification to your court order. Courts are often reluctant to make changes to existing orders when a child appears to be safe and well-adjusted. To request a modification, you need a strong supporting argument backed by skilled legal counsel.
Modification of Custody
Typically, modification requests arise out of life changes. As with an original order, a court’s decision on modifying child custody arrangements is based on several statutory factors, while a modification of parenting time is based on a more simple standard of “the best interests of the child.” The party requesting the modification must demonstrate how the change would benefit the child.
A modification request can occur in the following scenarios:
- Child executes an affidavit of election. A child 14 years old or older may elect the parent with whom he or she desires to live. See, O.C.G.A. section 19-9-3(a)(4)
Notice of intent to relocate
- Repeated interference with visitation and custodial Rights
- Significant improvement in the ability of the non-custodial parent to provide for the child
- Custody cases are made on a case by case basis, are fact specific, and are difficult to predict. The trial court has power to award sole custody, joint custody, joint legal custody, and joint physical custody, and change visitation. O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(a).
Modification of Child Support
Child Support can be modified for many reasons, but generally, the most common reasons for a modification of child support are due to a substantial change in either parent’s income and financial status or the needs of the child.
With respect to timing and waiting periods, O.C.G.A. §19-6-15 makes it clear that no petition to modify child support may be filed by either parent within a period of two years from the date of the final order on a previous petition to modify by the same parent. However, there are exceptions to this two year period such as where:
(A) A noncustodial parent has failed to exercise the court ordered visitation;
(B) A noncustodial parent has exercised a greater amount of visitation than was provided in the court order; or
(C) The motion to modify is based upon an involuntary loss of income.
The custody and child support statutes are very intricate and complicated. Contact our office today for an experienced attorney to assist with your modification action.