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Child Support Modification in Georgia

In Georgia, child support orders may be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in either parent’s income or financial status, or in the needs of the children. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(k)(1). A substantial change could include the loss of a job, decrease in income, increase in income, increase in the medical needs of the children, increase in the educational needs of the children (i.e.private school, tutoring, etc.), or decrease in the needs of the children (i.e. child no longer needs day care). This substantial change must occur between the date of the divorce decree or previous child support action and the filing of the new petition for modification of child support.

Generally, you can only bring a child support modification action once every two years so keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to file a modification. The two year limitation does not apply from the date of your divorce decree, but rather from the date of your last modification. In other words, you could bring a modification action within a few months of your divorce decree,but you would have to wait two years after that modification action before you could come back to court again. There are three exceptions to this two year rule: (1) If the non-custodial parent has failed to exercise court ordered visitation; (2) if the non-custodial parent has exercised more visitation than provided in the court order; or (3) the modification action is based upon an involuntary loss of income. O.C.G.A. §19-6-15(k)(2)(A) – (C).

Any modification of these orders must be done prospectively. This means that the Court can only modify these orders from the date of the filing of a petition. The Court cannot retroactively modify court orders from the date of the substantial change.


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