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Rules of Modification

Child Custody Governing Statute

Official Code of Georgia Section 19-9-1 (b)
State of Georgia Attorney at LawIn any case in which a judgment awarding the custody of a minor has been entered, on the motion of any party or on the motion of the court, that portion of the judgment effecting visitation rights between the parties and their minor children may be subject to review and modification or alteration without the necessity of any showing of a change in any material conditions and circumstances of either party or the minor, provided that the review and modification or alteration shall not be had more often than once in each two-year period following the date of entry of the judgment. However, this subsection shall not limit or restrict the power of the court to enter a judgment relating to the custody of a minor in any new proceeding based upon a showing of a change in any material conditions or circumstances of a party or the minor.


Case Law

Petry v. Romo, 249 Ga. App. 99 (2001) . . . petitions to modify child custody . . . are governed by O.C.G.A. Section 19-9-1 and may be brought without the necessity of a material change in any conditions and circumstances of either party or the minor “provided that the review and modification or alteration shall not be had more often than once in each two-year period following the date of entry of judgment.” The court is nevertheless authorized to modify child custody in any new proceeding upon a showing of a change in material conditions or circumstances.


Question: Can the Court modify visitation in a contempt proceeding?

Sampson v. Sampson, 240 Ga. 118 (1977) Visitation rights of parties to final divorce may be modified on motion of either party or on motion of trial judge in subsequently filed contempt proceeding; new proceeding based upon evidence showing change in circumstances effecting interests and welfare of minor child is not only way visitation rights may be modified.


Child Support and Alimony

Governing Statute


Official Code of Georgia Section 19-6-19 (a)
State of Georgia Attorney at LawThe judgment of a court providing permanent alimony for the support of a spouse rendered on or after July 1, 1977, shall be subject to revision upon petition filed by either former spouse showing a change in the income and financial status of either former spouse. The judgment of a court providing permanent alimony for the support of a child or children rendered on or after July 1, 1977, shall be subject to revision upon petition filed by either former spouse showing a change in the income and financial status of either former spouse or in the needs of the child or children. In either case a petition shall be filed and returnable under the same rules of procedure applicable to divorce proceedings. No petition may be filed by either former spouse under this subsection within a period of two years from the date of the final order on a previous petition by the same former spouse. After hearing both parties and the evidence, the jury, or the judge where a jury is not demanded by either party, may modify and revise the previous judgment, in accordance with the changed income and financial status of either former spouse in the case of permanent alimony for the support of a former spouse, or in accordance with the changed income and financial status of either former spouse or in the needs of the child or children in the case of permanent alimony for the support of a child or children, if such a change in the income and financial status is satisfactorily proved so as to warrant the modification and revision. In the hearing upon a petition filed as provided in this subsection, testimony may be given and evidence introduced relative to the income and financial status of either former spouse.

(b) 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. In the event the petitioner does not prevail in the petition for modification on the ground set forth in this subsection, the petitioner shall be liable for reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the respondent for the defense of the action.

(c) When an action for revision of a judgment for permanent alimony under this Code section is pending, the court in its discretion may allow, upon motion, the temporary modification of such a judgment, pending the final trial on the petition. In considering an application for temporary modification under this subsection, the court shall consider evidence of any changed circumstances of the parties and the reasonable probability of the petitioner obtaining revision upon final trial. The order granting temporary modification shall be subject to revision by the court at any time before final trial.

(d) In proceedings for the modification of alimony for the support of a spouse or child pursuant to the provisions of this Code section, the court may award attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses of litigation to the prevailing party as the interests of justice may require.


Case Law

Thorp v. Thorp, 258 Ga. 220 (1988) Divorce statute, which proscribes filing of petition by former spouse within two years from date of final order on previous petition by same former spouse, did not preclude husband from filing complaint for modification of child support two months after final decree of divorce; judgment of divorce was not final order on previous petition for modification.

Temples v. Temples, 262 Ga. 779 (1993) Where financial circumstances of party so warrant, trial court, in modification action, may reduce amount of alimony payments to zero; reduction of alimony payments to zero does not terminate alimony award, in that it does not preclude possibility of future modification. However, the court in a modification action has no authority to extend time in which periodic support payments are to be made.


Jurisdiction and Venue

Younte v. Mulle, 266 Ga. 729 (1996) Nonresident father who filed petition for modification of visitation and custody rights thereby subjected himself, by purposeful availment, to personal jurisdiction in forum state for purposes of resident mother’s counterclaim for modification of child support.

Davis v. Davis, 259 Ga. 151 (1989) It has been firmly established that proper venue in an alimony-modification action in county of residence of the party defendant in the modification action, and not the county wherein the divorce decree was rendered or the county of residence of the party defendant in the original divorce action and alimony suit. . . We do note, however, that in an alimony-modification action, visitation rights are subject to review and modification “on the motion of any party, or on the motion of the court.”


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