Friday, July 15, 2016

Can I Change Back to my Maiden Name?

Yes, you can restore your maiden name after divorce in Georgia. “Your last name does not automatically revert to your former or maiden name once you get divorced.” “In most states, you can request that the judge handling your divorce make a formal order restoring your former or birth name.”

People have many reasons to change (or not change) their name after divorce. In blog post “Should You Change Your Name Back After Divorce?” Jackie Pilossoph lists the following considerations: (1) Children, (2) Reason, (3) Profession, (4) Comfort, and (5) Time. The decision to change your name is a personal decision that only you can make, however, “one reason a woman absolutely should not change her name back to her birth name, is if it is solely for the purpose of avoiding creditors or criminal prosecution.”

Georgia allows for the restoration of your maiden name with your divorce as long as it is requested in your divorce documents. If your divorce decree does not reinstate your maiden name, you can request a name change later with the Superior Court in your county for additional fees and paperwork. Be sure that you do the research and do not overlook this important decision in the divorce process.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Can I Have My Child Support Amount Changed?

Yes, child support can be modified, but only through court Order. Parties are legally required to pay the court Ordered child support obligation unless and until there is a change to the original Order.

If there has been a “substantial change in either parent's income and financial status or the needs of the child” a modification of child support can be submitted to the Court.O.C.G.A. §19-6-15 (k). Once the modification is submitted to the Court, it will go through the same process as the original Order for child support: financial information will be obtained, a child support worksheet will be calculated, documents will be reviewed by the Court, then the judge will enter a final Order on the modification.

“In Georgia, a judge may consider increasing or decreasing child support for the following reasons:

  • The paying party involuntarily loses their job or falls ill;
  • Either parent receives additional income through remarriage;
  • Cost of living increase;
  • Physical disability on behalf of either parent;
  • The needs of the child increase;
  • A significant increase in the income of the paying parent; and
  • A change in custody of the child; for instance, the child moves in with the paying parent.”

“You can file for a modification of child support at any time after the original order establishing the support obligation has been entered. However, once child support has been modified by the court as a result of an action filed by you, you cannot file another action for modification for two (2) years from the date of the final order modifying support.”

In some cases, the change in child support can even be processed as an uncontested modification if there are simple agreed upon financial changes. If child support is being processed through The Georgia Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), parties can request a review of the child support obligation for a fee. It is recommended that you contact a local family law attorney to discuss your child support modification concerns.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Will My Spouse Be Required To Pay For College Expenses For Our Children If We Divorce?

No, the Georgia Courts do not require child support to continue through college. “The duty to provide support for a minor child shall continue until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated, whichever first occurs.” O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e). Child support generally ends at age 18, but can be continued through age 19 if the child is still in high school. The Courts do not Order child support past the age of 19 unless the parties agree in clear written language.

The Georgia Commission on Child Support was formed to establish and regularly review, “child support guidelines, development and maintenance of the Georgia Child Support Calculator, recommending legislation, providing training throughout the State to judges, attorneys, and the public, and many other duties.” This Commission ensures that child support is standard across the entire state of Georgia.

Any variation on the standard child support duty must be agreed to by both parties and be expressed in a clearly written document consented to and approved by both parties. Parties may agree that the child support amount will continue through college or trade school age, while other parties may agree to split the fees associated with the higher education. Additional child support past the state minimum duty must be agreed upon by both parties and will not be approved by the Court without both parties written and signed consent. Shared college expenses for minor children is not common when parties divorce and if not previously discussed and agreed to by the parties it is not granted by the Court in the State of Georgia.