Modification: Child Support, Spousal Support, and Child Custody and Visitation
When a court enters a final decree regarding child support, spousal support, modification is allowed if a change in circumstances can justify the request. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15 guides modification to child support. It states that modification of child support requires evidence of a substantial change in circumstances (e.g., parent change in finances or needs of the child). It also states 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.
Like child support, alimony also requires a substantial change in circumstances (e.g., an increase/decrease in either parties' finances). It is important to note that spousal support may be terminated if the receiving spouse voluntarily co-habits with another openly and continuously or engages in a sexual relationship.
Modification of visitation works differently. O.C.G.A. §19-9-3 (8b) states:
In any case in which a judgment awarding the custody of a child has been entered, on the motion of any party or on the motion of the judge, that portion of the judgment effecting visitation rights between the parties and their child or parenting time may be subject to review and modification or alteration without the necessity of any showing of a change in any material conditions and circumstances of either party or the child, provided that the review and modification or alteration shall not be had more often than once in each two-year period following the date of entry of the judgment. However, this subsection shall not limit or restrict the power of the judge to enter a judgment relating to the custody of a child in any new proceeding based upon a showing of a change in any material conditions or circumstances of a party or the child.
In simpler terms, modification of visitation rights may not occur more than once every two years. It also states that this modification does not require a material change in circumstances.
A request for of child custody modification requires a high standard: A party must show a material change in condition substantially affecting the interest and welfare of the child/ren. Unlike visitation, however, there are no time restraints or waiting.
As a general rule, property division is not modifiable.
These actions can be complicated, so it is advisable to seek legal counsel.