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Change of Custody or Visitation
Although child support is generally modified due to a change in the income or financial status of either of the parents, or due to a change in the needs of the minor child or children involved, child support may also be modified ancillary to a change of custody. See Beasley v. Lamb, 227 Ga. 266 (1971). Thus, if one parent prevails in his or her action for the modification of child custody and the court presiding over the matter orders a change of custody, the court may also order child support to be paid to the new custodial parent. Id. Contemporaneous with this order granting the change in custody and the award of child support to the new custodial parent, the child support payments that were previously being paid to the former custodial parent may be terminated without the new custodial parent seeking a modification of child support. Hasty v. Duncan, 239 Ga. 797 (1977) and Ford v. Hanna, 293 Ga.App. 863 (2008). In sum, upon the modification of child custody the court presiding over the matter may automatically modify child support in order to reflect the new custody arrangement.
However, although child support may be automatically modified by the trial court ancillary to a child custody modification action, a court may not automatically modify child support ancillary to an action for the modification of visitation rights. In order for child support to be modified upon a change in the relative visitation rights of the parties, the party seeking to modify child support must petition the court for a modification of child support and show the change in circumstance required by Georgia law concerning the modification of child support. Facey v. Facey, 281 Ga. 367 (2006). See our article entitled “Modification of Child Support: Change in Circumstance” for more specific information regarding this requirement.