Dedicated Legal Representation
From an Experienced Douglas County and Atlanta Area Family Law Firm
When life changes, child custody, visitation, child support, and alimony arrangements may need to change also
MODIFICATION OF CHILD CUSTODY
Once custody has been determined by court order in a divorce or custody action, a judge may modify custody if it is shown that since the entry of that order, there has been a material change in circumstances that substantially affects the interests and welfare of a child that warrants a change in custody. When deciding to modify custody from one parent to the other, the judge must determine whether a change is in the child’s best interests.
How is “material change in circumstances” defined? There is no single answer to that question. Some of the most common instances that may result in a modification of custody include:
JOB RELOCATION A change in the custodial parent’s employment that requires them to relocate and the relocation will make the other parent’s visitation significantly more difficult, impractical, or even impossible to exercise;
CHILD ELECTION A child reaches the age of 14 or older and wants to live with their other parent. It is important to note that the election of a 14 year old child of a sibling group to live with the other parent may impact custody of all of the children, especially if all of the children wish to live with the other parent.
CHANGES IN YOUR CHILDREN’S NEEDS A child’s academic performance, mental, physical, or emotional health may warrant a modification of custody
CHANGE IN PARENTAL CAPACITY A decline in the physical or mental health of the custodial parent, substance abuse, or emotional instability may warrant a modification of custody
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH CURRENT CUSTODY ARRANGEMENT A custodial parents’ refusal to follow a custody order by constantly hindering or repeatedly denying the other parent visitation may result in a modification of custody.
MODIFICATION OF VISITATION
Modification of visitation differs from modification of child custody. Once a parent’s visitation or parenting time schedule has been established by court order, that parent must wait two (2) years before he or she seeks to modify their visitation UNLESS there has been a material change in circumstances that substantially affects their child’s best interests and welfare. In that instance, the noncustodial parent does not have to wait two (2) years to seek a modification of their visitation or parenting time.
MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT
The general rule is that a parent cannot seek a modification of child support (upward or downward) until two years after the original order establishing child support was entered, however, there are exceptions. An order awarding child support can be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in either parent’s finances or in the needs of the child(ren). There are other factors that could warrant a modification in child support such as a change in the child’s needs, disability of a parent that affects their ability to work, and a change in custody.
MODIFICATION OF ALIMONY
Once alimony has been established as a part of a divorce decree, either party may seek of modification of alimony to increase or decrease the amount awarded to be paid by one former spouse to the other. There are two main reasons parties seek a modification in alimony:
a change in the income or financial status of either former spouse; or
when a former spouse learns the other spouse he or she is paying alimony to is openly and continuously cohabitating with a third party in a sexual or romantic relationship.
If you have questions or concerns regarding an existing court order as to Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support, or Alimony, contact us today to schedule a consultation at (470) 308-5409.