Sometimes unexpected circumstances like an illness or a job termination can dramatically upend your life. Parents who are providing child support may find it difficult to continue support payments under the terms of an existing court order. If your earning ability is impacted or changed not long after a support order is given, you are permitted under Georgia law to apply for a modification review, provided that your circumstances qualify under state law.

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) website explains that parents can seek a modification of a previous order within a period of 36 months if there was a “substantial” change in the circumstances of the parents since the last order was handed down or since a previous modification of an order. These circumstances must substantially impact the ability of a parent to pay a previous support order, or conversely, a parent must have received a large windfall of money.

The ACF website gives several examples that constitute a substantial change of circumstances. A parent may suffer from a serious illness that will impair the ability of the parent to earn a living for more than a year. An accident, such as car wreck, may also cause serious injury and keep a parent from working for a prolonged period of time. In general, a parent by no fault of his or her own who suffers at least 25% loss of income may consider applying for a modification order.

Other circumstances can warrant a post modification order shortly after an initial support order was made, such as a parent receiving benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. However, not all changes in life circumstances qualify for a modification less than three years after the creation of the support order. For instance, Georgia does not consider being incarcerated as an involuntary deprivation of income.

There are many circumstances that can alter your financial state. Do not consider this article as a substitute for the advice of a professional attorney; it is only written as general information.