Modification of Final Judgment
CAPABLE DIVORCE LAWYERS SERVING ATLANTA RESIDENTS
Sometimes, even a final court order may not be the end of wrangling with your ex-spouse over matters affecting your finances and children, particularly if circumstances demand that you make some modification to any of the orders in the decree. If you find yourself in this situation, the attorneys at Rowsey & Stelter can assist you. We have extensive experience assisting Atlanta residents in a broad variety of family law matters, including seeking modification of final judgments.
MODIFICATION OF FINAL JUDGMENTS
Courts generally try to leave almost nothing to chance when it comes to financial and parental arrangements following the dissolution of a marriage. In fact, divorce decrees contractually bind couples to very specific commitments far into the future. In most cases, the spouses are willing to abide by the terms of the order, and they may even reach agreement on many of these matters without court intervention. What becomes difficult, then, is when circumstances change for one or the other ex-spouse subsequent to the final decree, making it difficult to continue to comply with a final order.
When this happens, the affected individual should consider resolving the situation by seeking a modification. Both parties are bound by law to comply with court orders. Even when compliance is impossible, ignoring the orders is not an option. Individuals who defy court orders may find themselves facing contempt and enforcement proceedings, which can lead to penalties above and beyond compelled compliance.
Georgia courts generally will not consider modifications regarding division of assets, but they will consider modifications of final orders when it comes to spousal support, child support, and child custody and visitation.
There are many reasons that one or the other party may need to seek modification. When it comes to spousal support and child support obligations, one of the most common reasons for seeking modification is a change in financial circumstances, such as if the paying spouse involuntarily loses his or her job. Similarly, child custody or child visitation rights and plans may need to be modified if circumstances change, such as a parent developing a serious medical condition.
Occasionally, the spouses themselves can reach agreement on a new arrangement. However, even when they agree, the parties must submit the modification to the court for approval for the new arrangement to legally replace the pre-existing order. If the court is satisfied that the parties fully understand and assent to the new arrangement, the court is likely to approve it.
However, sometimes the other spouse does not agree to a modification. Under Georgia law, the party who wants a change must then file a motion for modification with the court that granted the original decree and give notice to the other party. In deciding on such a motion, the standard that the court applies is whether the requested modification is justified by a “substantial change in material circumstances or conditions.” If the requested modification relates to child custody or visitation, the court will also base its decision on the “best interests of the child.” The party seeking modification must provide documentary or other evidence to the court to substantiate his or her claim according to these standards.
DISCUSS YOUR FAMILY LAW MATTER WITH AN ATLANTA ATTORNEY
Obtaining a modification of a final judgment is not always an easy hurdle to overcome. If you need the help of an experienced family law lawyer in trying to change a divorce decree near Atlanta, contact Rowsey & Stelter. You can set up a free consultation by calling 770-993-5317 or using our online form. We proudly represent clients in Roswell, Milton, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, and other communities throughout Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb Counties.