At Brenner Law Group, divorce and family law is all we do – and we do it really well.
Once a divorce has been finalized, unexpected changes in circumstances can occur. At Brenner Law Group we will protect your rights after divorce so whether you are seeking to make modifications or require enforcement, our attorney Emily Brenner will walk you through the process.
Attorney Emily Brenner provides trusted counsel throughtout the divorce process.
Photograph by Nicole Stephens
Brenner Law Group will help you modify or enforce the following issues: Child Support, Child Custody, Visitation and Parenting Time, and Spousal Support.
Aside from the modification and enforcement of judgments, we will also assist you with setting up trusts, protecting assets, stepparent adoptions, and other issues that may come up after the divorce has been finalized. We can help reduce the stress that may be involved in all of these steps.
Below we’ve provided useful information to help you understand the basics of the Georgia divorce process, but this information is in no way intended to be a comprehensive guide. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Enforcement of Judgments
Both temporary and final orders of the court are subject to enforcement. This includes child custody, visitation, child support, and alimony orders. If you are having trouble collecting on a court order, you need to know your options. If you are having trouble paying on a court order, it is important to understand the consequences of noncompliance.
Consequences of Interference with Custody or Visitation
If one parent interferes with a child custody order by preventing visitation or custody, the other parent is permitted to file a motion with the Georgia Courts to request that parent be held in contempt. The procedures differ depending on which county you reside in.
During a contempt hearing, the courts can change visitation arrangements. However, they are unable to change custody. When the custodial parent continuously prevents the non-custodial parent from seeing his or her child, this could be considered grounds a change in custody. Our Roswell-based child custody lawyer can help you file a separate motion for modification of your child custody order.
Under Georgia law, if you interfere with a court-ordered custody, you could be charged with a crime. If a non-custodial parent keeps a minor away from the custodial parent, it is considered criminal interference. Even it only happened once; you could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Penalties for child custody interference include fines, jail time, and felony convinctions.
If one parent leaves the state with their child after the outlined, legal out-of-state visitation time-frame, it is considered a felony. Even if you believe the other parent is a danger your child, you should be very careful about taking matters into your own hands.
Contact Brenner Law Group if you are having trouble with the following: blocking visitation; blocking communication with or from the child; children refusing to visit at scheduled times; denying visitation for non-payment of child support; or a parent is consistently missing visitation or violating the schedule.
“From start to finish, my case was handled in a fair and just manner. I highly recommend Emily Brenner for anyone struggling through a divorce.”
Enforcement of Orders for Payment of Child Support or Alimony in Georgia
Georgia courts will enforce orders for payment of child support and alimony. If your ex-spouse is behind in providing alimony, you can file a motion asking the court to hold him or her in contempt and require payment.
If you are behind in paying support, and if the reason is that you are unable to pay the court-ordered amount, you must go to court to seek a modification. The court will not modify the amount you need to pay retroactively.
Also, the child or children hold the right to receive child support. The parent receiving the support is therefore not permitted to waive the right of the children to support.
The courts take enforcement of orders seriously. Contact Brenner Law Group if you have a question about the enforcement of orders.
Enforcement of Child Support from Other States
If you wish to enforce or modify a child support order from another state or to bring a claim for child support against someone who is not a resident of Georgia, then you will probably bring an action under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). At this time, every state in the United States has adopted this legislation.
For Georgia, see O.C.G.A. 19-11-110. This legislation standardizes the procedure for bringing the action so that we don’t get caught up in the procedural challenges of litigating between states.
Q: What Actions Can I Bring?
A: The following proceedings may be brought under the UIFSA:
- Establishing an order for child or spousal support
- Enforcing support orders and incoming withholding without order of another state without registration
- Registering an out-of-state spousal or child support order to be enforced in Georgia
- Modifying a spousal or child support order by Georgia tribunal
Registering an out of state modification order for child support
- Determination of parentage
- Asserting jurisdiction over non-Georgia residents
Q: What Conditions Have to Be Met?
A: The statute gives the Georgia Court authority to preside over the action (jurisdiction) if one of the following conditions is met:
- They are served in Georgia
- They consent to Georgia jurisdiction
- They enter a general appearance
- They waive the contest to personal jurisdiction
- They lived with the child in Georgia
- They provided parental support or expenses for the child in Georgia
- They engaged in sex while in Georgia, and the child was conceived by that act
- They have asserted parentage of the child in Georgia
If one of those conditions is met, then the court may establish, enforce, or modify a support order regardless of whether one or both parents are currently in the state of Georgia.
Q: If the co-parent moves out of state, can they seek modifications of the child custody order in their new state of residence?
A: UIFSA addresses this concern, it states as long as one of the parents or child remains a resident of Georgia, then the Georgia courts maintain exclusive jurisdiction over the child custody matter, unless all parties consent to have another state modify the order. Thus, unless all parties have consented to the new state, a co-parent may not seek modifications of child support orders.
Modifications of Judgments
No divorce decree or settlement agreement can possibly anticipate everything that might happen to you, your ex-spouse, or your children following a divorce. Sometimes circumstances change, and you are unable to continue complying with a court order regarding alimony, child custody (including visitation), or child support. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to know your options regarding modifications of court orders.
Modification of Court Orders
It is not permissible to just ignore or otherwise disregard the order of a court. Support orders will not be modified retroactively. Moreover, even if you modify with your ex-spouse by agreement, if the new agreement is not made into an Order of the Court, neither party must comply.
Additionally, where child support is involved, a parent is not permitted to waive a child’s right to support. Therefore, the receiving parent may be remiss in looking out for the best interests of the children by forgiving a child support obligation, and the support remains owed anyway.
In Georgia, whether you are seeking to modify an order for custody, alimony, or child support, you must show the following:
There has been an order of the Court that you now wish to modify. This is the first time you are seeking to modify the order since it was entered OR that it has been at least two years of the last order of modification that was entered for you (this is not necessarily true where modification of custody is involved. The Judge can even modify custody on the Court’s own motion).
For custody: There has been a material change in circumstance that affects the best interests of the child(ren), or the custodial parent is moving out of the jurisdiction of the Court or has otherwise become unfit, or a child has reached the age of election and has elected to live with the non-custodial parent;
For alimony: There has been a material change in the financial circumstances of either of the parties that occurred since the entry of the last order of modification such that a modification would be warranted;
For modification of child support: There has been a material change in either the financial situation and/or the custodial situation such the best interest of the children and the totality of circumstances would warrant a modification.
Judgments may be modified for a temporary term because of a temporary situation, or on a permanent basis.
“I can’t stress this enough — Emily really does care about making sure her clients are treated fairly.”
Modification of Alimony under Georgia’s “Live-in Lover” Law
My ex has a new love. Can I quit paying alimony?
Jerry is gleeful – at least for the moment. Two years ago, he and his long-time spouse, Suzie, divorced. Jerry was ordered to pay Suzie a boodle of alimony, and every month he would say to himself, “I wish Suzie would get a boyfriend so I could quit paying her all this alimony.” Now it finally happened. Jerry read on Suzie’s Facebook page that she is dating, and a friend told him that her new love has spent the night. Hurrah?
Well, it’s not necessarily that simple. Let’s look at what Georgia’s “live-in lover” statute, O.C.G.A. § 19-6-19 (b), has to says:
“Subsequent to a final judgment of divorce awarding periodic payment of alimony for the support of a spouse, the voluntary cohabitation of such former spouse with a third party in a meretricious relationship shall also be grounds to modify provisions made for periodic payments of permanent alimony for the support of the former spouse. As used in this subsection, the word “cohabitation” means dwelling together continuously and openly in a meretricious relationship with another person, regardless of the sex of the other person.”
The statute also provides that if you file a “live-in lover” complaint and you fail to prove your case, you have to pay reasonable attorney’s fees of the other side as well as your own attorney’s fees. Therefore, this is not a case that one should bring without a genuine, reasonable belief that there is sufficient evidence to win.
Let’s get back to the statute. In Georgia, Jerry would only have grounds to modify (not necessarily terminate) the alimony he pays if he can prove by a preponderance of the evidence:
1) Voluntary cohabitation (defined as continuously and openly dwelling together akin to marriage – not secretively or periodically)
2) Meretricious relationship (defined as either having sexual intercourse or continuously sharing the expenses of cohabitation)
Both elements must be proven, not just one or another. Even a full admission that there has been occasional sexual intercourse does not give rise to a modification under this statute unless the cohabitation piece is proven. Additionally, as in other modification cases, Jerry would have to prove this new condition arose after the final judgment in the case was entered.
If you require divorce-related assistance after a settlement has already been reached, contact Brenner Law Group at (404) 751-8868 or schedule your consultation online.
Going through divorce is hard, but Brenner Law Group can help provide the certainty and direction that you are looking for.
As a lawyer and psychologist, Emily Brenner has a unique understanding of family law and the best options for your family.