Similar to divorce actions, legal actions for the modification of child support are law suits that are generally governed by the provisions of Georgia’s Civil Practice Act. An action for the modification of child support must be initiated and tried according to the same rules of procedure that apply to divorce cases. O.C.G.A. §§ 19-6-18(a) and 19-6-19(a).
Just as divorce actions may be filed by either spouse, petitions for the modification of child support may be filed by either parent or former-spouse. Id. However, specific to child support modification actions, the custodial parent is the proper party to represent the interest of the minor children during the pendency of the modification action. Dalon v. Dalon, 219 Ga. 185 (1963). Although child support modification actions are often filed after a divorce matter has been resolved, a petition for modification must be filed as a new civil action. Davis v. Davis, 218 Ga. 250 91962). As such, a petition for modification of child support must be filed with the Superior Court in the county where the defendant resides, just as a Complaint for Divorce would be. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-26.
Once the petition has been filed with the appropriate county’s Clerk of Court, the petition along with a summons must be served on the defendant by sheriff or private process server. Davis supra. Once the petition has been served on the defendant, the defendant has thirty day from the date of service to respond to the petition and make any counterclaims. This response is called an answer. Although this answer must be filed within thirty days of service to be timely, there will be no default judgment in favor of the petitioner in the event the defendant fails to respond. Johnson v. Still, 225 Ga. 222 (1969). This is one very important exception to the normal rules of procedure in Georgia that only applies to certain domestic relations cases.