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How Do I File for Custody Modification in Georgia

Child Custody Modification Process

Getting Started

A Petition for Modification of Child Custody is a civil action which may be filed by either parent. This action is a separate legal action from any previous Divorce case.

In order to modify custody, Georgia law requires a substantial change of conditions shown by new evidence since the previous court order. The parent petitioning to modify custody must also show that a change in custody is in the best interest of the child.

Where to File

Once an initial determination of child custody has been made, any complaint seeking to modify or change the legal custody of the child shall be filed by the non-custodial parent in the county of residence of the legal custodian of the child. However, if the legal custodian seeks a change of legal custody or visitation rights, the custodian must file a Modification action in the county where the Respondent (non-custodial parent) resides.


Once the Petition for Modification of Child Custody has been filed with the court, it must be served on the Respondent/Opposing Party by sheriff or private process server. The Opposing Party has 30 days from the date of service to respond to the petition with an Answer and make any counterclaims.


Once the Answer has been filed and served on the Petitioner, the Discovery period will begin. During the Discovery process, parties will gather relevant case information and evidence from the opposing party.

Settling the Case

Not every case ends by an expensive, lengthy trial in front of a judge. In fact, most cases are settled outside of court before they make it to a final trial.

Attorneys may exchange and confer on settlement terms once they have an understanding of the important facts in the case. Commonly, the parties may try Mediation and/or Arbitration in an attempt to resolve the case. Only a small percentage of cases are unable to settle and will proceed to a Final Trial in front of a judge.

Written by: Rebekah Ann James

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