Child support is an order established by the court based on the needs of the child and the means of the parents. When the paying parent has a discrepancy with the order, they cannot simply stop paying.
The parent must go through a formal process known as a modification. The state of Georgia has clear guidelines that lay out the circumstances in which a modification to an order will be considered. If you plan to seek a modification to your support order, read on to find out what these circumstances are.
Your existing child support was calculated based on your income at the time of the review. A significant change in the amount of money you earn means that you can request a modification.
The state has a threshold of 25 percent for modifications due to an income change, which means that your present earnings must have decreased by at least this much.
Someone who is no longer working would automatically meet this threshold; however, your reasoning for not working must be involuntary, such as the company going out of business.
Custodial Parent Changes
A change in the child's living arrangements may also warrant a modification. For example, say at the time the order was established, you only had your child every other weekend. But now the child has been staying with you two weeks out of the month, and this arrangement is the plan for the foreseeable future.
Child support is based on income, as well the amount of time the child spends with each parent. The contribution by each parent will shift in this instance because the child is now spending less time with the other parent and an increased amount of time with you.
The state of Georgia offers very little leniency when it comes to a parent not meeting the need of their child. But at the same time, they do understand that unforeseeable events happen in a person’s life that may change their ability, such as illness. A parent diagnosed with a serious illness can request a modification.
However, they may be required to prove how the illness affects their ability to pay. For example, someone diagnosed with cancer can show that their illness has increased their medical costs and ability to earn an income as they did in the past.
A parent requesting a modification, for this reason, should also not be surprised if they are required to submit documentation that supports their claim, such as medical bills.
An increase in cost-of-living expenses may also create an opportunity for a parent to request a modification, but some limitations exist with this scenario. To put this in perspective, first consider a person who moves to Atlanta due to a job relocation, and as a result, their cost of living expenses increase.
Second, consider a parent that decides to move into a more expensive home solely because they like the neighborhood. In the first scenario, the increase was in part involuntary, whereas it was entirely voluntary in the second instance. For a modification based on expense increases, the reasoning behind this change must be justifiable.
Meeting the requirements for a modification on its own does not mean that you will be successful, as these are just a portion of the factors used to determine payer requirements. However, the advice of an attorney can help you determine just how favorable your chances are and possibly increase your chance of success.
Contact our experienced legal team at A.B. Olmos & Associates, P.C., so that we can assist you with your modification concerns.