While modifications to preexisting domestic relations orders are warranted in a multitude of circumstances, one rule of thumb applies in all modification cases, regardless of the circumstances: a modification of a domestic relations order by agreement is not enforceable until the appropriate court enters a formal order approving the agreement. In other words, if you and your former spouse or the other parent of your child have reached an agreement to modify a preexisting court order, that agreement is not enforceable unless and until a court enters an order saying that it is.
Generally speaking, where parties have reached an agreement and then present it to a court to be incorporated into an order, the court will not interfere with the terms of the agreement unless those terms are illegal or clearly contrary to the best interests of the children involved. Otherwise, the nature of the order at issue in a modification action will determine the legal standard the court will utilize in determining whether to permit the modification. In child custody cases, for example, a party seeking a modification of a prior custody order will not prevail absent a showing of a change of condition since the entry of the prior order which has a material effect on the children at issue. In child support modification cases, a showing of a change in income since the entry of the last child support order which is greater than or equal to the thresholds set forth in Georgia’s child support statute may be enough to warrant a modification to that order.
If you’re interested in modifying an existing domestic relations order (or if you wish to challenge your ex’s efforts to modify an existing order), contact Kimberly Coleman Law today – we will help you understand the legal standards which apply in your unique circumstances, and we will help you craft a strategy to generate the outcome you desire from your modification case.