Can You Modify Your Divorce Decree in Georgia?

Can You Modify Your Divorce Decree in Georgia?

What Is a Divorce Decree?

Also known as a final judgment, a divorce decree is a formal document issued by the court that outlines the terms of your divorce (i.e. custody details, property division determinations, alimony terms, and child support). Your decree should be signed by the judge who oversaw your case. You and your ex-spouse are legally required to adhere to the terms outlined in your decree. So, what do you do if your circumstances change?

Filing to Modify the Terms of Your Agreement

In Georgia, you can file to modify the terms of your divorce, specifically concerning child custody, child support, and alimony. However, modifications are only allowed in certain circumstances. Below, we will discuss the reasons for modification and how to file.

Petition for Change of Child Custody or Support

You can request a modification of child support or custody if there is a change in circumstances, such as a loss of income, relocation, or a change in the child’s specific needs. To file a petition to modify your custody or support orders, you will need to:

  • Complete a Petition for Change of Custody and Child Support. You will need to know the names of both parents and children, the children’s age and gender, the children’s primary address, and more.
  • Complete a verification form, which asks you to sign and swear that the information you included in the petition is accurate.
  • Attach a copy of your original court orders to your petition.
  • Complete other required forms (i.e. summons, parenting plan, child support worksheet, etc).
  • Attach all of the completed forms and follow the Superior Court Clerk’s filing instructions.

It is important to note that you and your co-parent can file a Consent to Modification of Custody form if you already agree on the custody modifications. You will need to attach a completed parenting plan and child support addendum (if you are also modifying the support terms).

Petition for Change of Alimony

After your divorce, your alimony payments (that you give or receive) can be increased or decreased. You can file a petition to modify alimony if:

  • The party receiving alimony is willingly living with a third party that they are in a relationship with.
  • Either party has a change in their financial situation or income (i.e., lost a job or source of income).

To request an alimony modification, you must submit a petition with your local court, and you will need to show that:

  • The final decree entered included an alimony award.
  • The alimony award is permanent and was not a lump sum award.
  • The valid change in circumstance warranting the modification.
  • The change in circumstance occurred after the original decree was entered and before the modification request was filed.
  • This petition is not being filed within two years of the last modification action.

Before filing for modification, you should review your divorce decree as there may be clauses included that influence a modification. For instance, you (and your attorney) may have fought to include an escalator clause (that allows for increases if the paying party experiences a pay increase) or a cost of living adjustment clause (which allows for an increase concerning the rising cost of living).

In any case, you will need to submit evidence to substantiate your reason for filing. If you are claiming your spouse is cohabiting, you will need to prove that they are in an intimate, permanent relationship and not just having sleepovers. For financial changes, you will need to prove that you can either no longer afford the payments or can no longer make ends meet with the payments. Evidence can include:

  • Phone records
  • Pay stubs
  • Photos or videos
  • Witness testimonies

Contact Our Divorce Attorneys Today

At Balbo & Gregg, Attorneys at Law, PC, our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience. Before filing for modification, you should consult with our esteemed attorneys. We are equipped to help clients seeking post-divorce modifications and can help you:

  • Understand your best options
  • File your petition for modification
  • Alleviate some stress by handling the complex legalities
  • Prepare a solid legal strategy
  • Collect evidence to prove your claim

Learn more about how we can support you by contacting us online or at (866) 580-3089. We are here to help and hope to hear from you.