It's not uncommon for the financial situation of parents to change throughout the course of their child(ren)'s lifetime. Particularly during recent years, as more and more people throughout Georgia have lost jobs, been forced to take substantial pay cuts to stay in their jobs or had their hours substantially cut back, the ability of one parent to pay child support may change over time. A child support order is not always set in stone. There are some circumstances that may warrant, or even require, changing a child support obligation.
First things first, however. An obligation to pay court-ordered child support does not stop or change merely by one parent agreeing to accept less or saying that he or she understands why the parent cannot pay as he or she used to. The amount of child support ordered by the court is still owed until a legal action to modify child support is started. A Georgia child support modification attorney can explain the process, help you pursue an official change in your child support obligation and explain whether there will be interest due on any underpayments in the meantime.
Basics of Child Support Modification in Georgia
Either the payor or the recipient of child support can request the court to modify an existing order for child support. A modification can only be made of a periodic payment -- such as a weekly, biweekly or monthly payment schedule. A request for a modification of child support cannot be made if the requestor had asked the court to change a child support order within the last two years unless there was an involuntary loss of income by the parent who is paying child support.
In order to change the amount of child support that must be paid, whether to increase the amount or to decrease the amount, there must have been a 'substantial change' in the income or financial situation of either parent. A 25 percent loss of income is generally considered a substantial change that may allow for the modification of a child support order in Georgia. The lowered income may be due to an involuntary job loss, cutback of work hours, medical condition or other reasons.
A Georgia family lawyer can advise you of any other reasons that may allow for an increase or decrease in a court-ordered child support obligation.