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Procedure for Modifying Alimony

In Georgia, the procedure for filing a Petition for the Modification of Alimony is very similar to the procedure that must be followed to file a Complaint for Divorce. O.C.G.A. §§ 19-6-18(a) and 19-6-19(a). Below is a general outline of some of these requirements. Although these requirements may seem very straight forward, there are situations in which these general requirements may not apply or where other requirements may also need to be met in order to validly bring a claim for the modification of alimony.

  • A petition for the modification of alimony may be filed by either former spouse, regardless of which spouse is the obligated spouse. O.C.G.A. §§ 19-6-18(a) and 19-6-19(a).
  • Alimony modification petitions are separate legal actions that are distinct from the initial divorce case. Thus, alimony modification actions must be filed as a new civil action in the Superior Court in the county where the defendant resides. Davis v. Davis, 218 Ga. 250 (1962), O.C.G.A. § 19-6-26.
  • The defendant in the modification action must be served with the original petition for modification along with a summons, just as a Complaint for Divorce would be served. Service of process may either be performed by sheriff or a qualified private process server.  Davis, supra.
  • The defendant must receive proper notice of all trials or hearings scheduled in the modification matter. Hames v. Hames, 263 Ga. 752 (1994).
  • Unlike other civil actions, default judgments in alimony modifications are not allowable under Georgia law. Thus, even if the defendant does not respond to the Petition for Modification within the time period allowed (30 days), a default judgment will not be entered by the presiding court. However, other penalties may apply. McElroy v. McElroy, 252 Ga. 553 (1984).
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