MODIFICATION: CHILD SUPPORT & ALIMONY
Child support awards can be increased or decreased by showing a change in the income and financial status of either parent or in the needs of the children. For example, if the noncustodial parent receives an increase in salary or the needs of the children dramatically increase, then it may be appropriate to increase the amount of child support. Likewise, if the noncustodial parent suffers a reduction in earnings or one of the children graduates high school, it may be appropriate to decrease the amount of child support.
Once an order for child support is first issued, child support can be modified at any time thereafter. However, once a party receives an order of modification of child support, that party cannot file another modification for two (2) years, from the date of such order, except due to an involuntary loss of income or a greater (or lesser) amount of visitation being exercised by the noncustodial parent than what is provided in the court order.
The law in the State of Georgia provides a special procedure for modification of permanent alimony which is required to be paid in periodic installments. Periodic alimony may be modified based upon a showing of a change in the “income” or “financial status” of either former spouse.
In a proceeding strictly for modification, the court may only modify the decree as to the “amount” of future installments of alimony; an award of periodic alimony for a specified number of years may not be modified by extending the “term” of years.
There is no absolute right to a change in alimony, even upon proof of a change in income or financial status of a former spouse; the decision is within the discretion of the trier of fact.
In proceedings for the modification of alimony for the support of a spouse, the court may award attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses of litigation to the prevailing party as the interests of justice may require.
How Can I Determine The Income Of The Other Parent?
In order to determine the income of the parties and/or the needs of the ex-pouse or children, lawyers utilize the “discovery process” permitted under the Georgia Civil Practice Act. Contrary to what may be portrayed on television, a trained domestic attorney does not normally ask a question in court to which he does not already know the answer. The gathering of such pertinent information is accomplished through this process called “discovery.” This can involve such things as written interrogatories or questions to the other party (which must be answered by that party under oath), the production of financial records from the other party, or from the other party’s employer, bank, or accountant (e.g., tax returns, business or corporate records, expense accounts), the taking of depositions before a court reporter, as well as other available methods of fact investigation. Each case is unique and must be handled depending upon the individual needs of the client.
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