Since 1995, modification and enforcement attorney Miles W. Rich has been telling people the truth, which is not always what they want to hear.
His experience in and out of the courtroom gives him insight into the most likely outcomes of these types of cases, so he can provide knowledgeable legal counsel and build effective legal strategies to help clients with modification or enforcement of child support or custody orders.
After the entry of a Final Divorce Decree or Initial Child Support Order, the circumstances of parents and children often change. Fortunately, Georgia law allows for adjustments to child custody, child support, visitation rights and spousal support as employment, income, geographic location and other life circumstances of the parents and children change. If you have questions regarding family law and divorce modifications, we advise you to contact our firm, and talk with us regarding your rights and options.
Family Law lawyer, Miles W. Rich, provides representation to help modify family law court decrees across the Atlanta metro area. We have handled modification cases involving many different scenarios where either living expenses and/or income have changed.
Modifications to a previous agreement or decree may also occur following:
If your former spouse (or the other parent if you two were never married) has stopped paying alimony or child support, we can help enforce a court-ordered support agreement or order by filing a motion for contempt. The non-compliant party must respond to this court order and continued failure to comply could result in significant financial penalties, as well as jail time.
If employment information is known, a garnishment of wages may be an appropriate method of collecting support. Wage garnishment requires an employer to withhold a set amount of earnings from the non-compliant party's paycheck to repay past due alimony or child support.
Motions for Contempt can also be filed to enforce other provisions of a Divorce/Custody Agreement or Order.
To learn more about your legal rights and options regarding child support enforcement and modification, please contact us to arrange a private, informative meeting with attorney Miles W. Rich. You are under no obligation to hire our firm. We offer initial consultations because we believe that all people should have equal access to the law.
When you visit our Cumming or Roswell law offices, you will notice that we offer a relaxed environment. We save our hard-line approach for the opposing counsel and choose to provide you with comfort as well as comprehensive legal counsel during this stressful time.
The division of property and debts in a divorce is a final adjudication, as are most court decisions. We don't allow parties to re-litigate issues. In criminal law, that is often referred to as double jeopardy. In civil law, we use a Latin term, res judicata.
However, family law is different. When it comes to custody and support, situations change; and therefore, we allow the awards of child support, spousal support, custody and visitation to be modified, provided there is a material change in circumstances. In other words, one can't modify child support because they think they are paying too much, or receiving too little, unless there has been some event, or series of events, or change of facts that support modification.
O.C.G.A 19-6-15(k) provides that :
(1) a parent shall not have the right to petition for modification of the child support award regardless of the length of time since the establishment of the child support award unless there is a substantial change in either parents' income and financial status or the needs of the child.
(2) No Petition to modify child support may be filed by either parent within a period of two years from the date of the final order on a previous petition to modify by the same parent except where: A) A non custodial parent has failed to exercise the court ordered visitation; (B) A non custodial parent has exercised a great amount of visitation than was provided in the court order; or (C) The motion to modify is based upon an involuntary loss of income as set forth in subsection (j) of this Code section.
Substantial changes are not defined. Certainly the increase or decrease income of 3% or less is not a substantial change. But is 7% substantial? Only the court can decide that.
The standards for modifying spousal support are similar; a substantial change in income or financial status of one of the parties is necessary. Only periodic alimony can be modified; lump sum awards cannot be. Georgia also has a "live in lover" law which allows the court to modify or terminate alimony if the recipient of the alimony is found to be cohabitating in a meretricious relationship with another person. This means they must be living together, sharing household expenses, and be lovers. The lover need not be a person of the opposite sex.
Some parties, in agreements, give up the right to modify alimony, but if a case goes to trial, and a court awards periodic alimony, the award is always modifiable.
Parents may contract to waive reductions in child support, but contracts or agreements which waive increases in child support are void as being against public policy. The reason for this is that the right to receive child support technically belongs to the children, not the parents. The receiving parent is considered a conduit for the child support payments; however, in almost every case, the receiving parent can expend the child support in just about any way they see fit. But parents who spend child support on luxury items for themselves may soon find themselves in the midst of a modification case to lower the support, or even a change of custody case.
Modifications of custody and visitation can be brought by either party; however, there must be some substantial change in circumstances to do so. There are many reasons to change custody and visitation. The standard that a court must use is: What is in the best interest of the minor children!
Many of my clients are referrals from the people or attorneys who opposed me in court. I have extensive experience successfully resolving these types of cases in and out of the courtroom.
I consider family law cases to be an exercise in common sense. I work closely with my clients and fully inform them about their legal rights, their options and the likely outcomes in their cases.
In some cases, people have come to me feeling frustrated, and they have already decided on the amount of money they feel they are entitled to. Before initiating legal action against a former spouse, I evaluate all the circumstances and make recommendations regarding the best course of action. It could be that the former spouse has no money, and if I recklessly follow a request to begin legal proceedings, I would be wasting my client's money and time.
You can be confident that I will always tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not, because in addition to providing affordable legal services, I am dedicated to providing ethical legal counsel.
Contact the Law Offices of Miles W. Rich to make an appointment to discuss your situation, at no cost or obligation. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with you.