I will tell you what I tell everyone who asks this question, you do not technically "need" a lawyer, and yes you can file and pursue a modification action on your own. There is no legal requirement that you hire an attorney to handle the matter. That said, the important question you must ask yourself is, should you?
The truth is that you do not understand how the system works, what evidence you need to gather and present to a judge, and what steps you need to take in order to be successful. Fail on any level and you likely won't get the outcome you are looking for. This is even more true if the opposing party does hire an attorney. Therefore, my response to your initial question is no, you do not need to hire an attorney to pursue a modification of child support action on your behalf, but before you make the decision to proceed pro se, I strongly suggest you speak with an attorney in order to fully understand all that will be required in order to obtain the modification you are seeking.
Regarding your other comments, you should first know that the Court will not be very interested in hearing about how your ex lied. The bottom line is you did not show up for court and an order was entered, and now you have to live with the terms of that order unless you can show there has been a change of circumstances that would warrant a modification of the existing order. If you are currently unemployed, and thus you are not earning $5,000.00 (regardless of whether or not you ever truly earned that amount), you should be able to show there has been a material change of circumstances that warrants a modification of your child support obligation.
I suggest you at least meet with an attorney for a thorough consultation to discuss your options. You may be able to obtain a modification, and I do believe your chances will be greatly increased if you are represented by an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law.
Thank you and good luck!
Nothing contained herein shall be considered or construed as creating an attorney client relationship between the party asking the question and the attorney. All legal problems are different. The answer given is only a general response based upon the facts provided and should not be considered specific advice for your case. Always contact a lawyer for advice about your particular circumstances and issues.
Technically speaking, you do not have to have a lawyer when filing a child support modification action. Having representation is highly recommended when your case is complicated or highly contentious (i.e., you have a big fight on your hands), or when the other side has an attorney. If the parties are in complete agreement, it is recommended that you jave an attorney review your paperwork (as opposed to representing you throughout the matter). In all other incidents, it is recommended that you have a lawyer but not required.
You may want to consider seeing if you qualify for legal assistance through programs such as the Georgia Legal Services Program. However, it is exceedingly important that you file an action immediately (whether or not you have a lawyer)!!
~ Kem Eyo
The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.
In obtaining a modification of child support, a parent must demonstrate the legal burden, that there has been a substantial change in either parent's income and financial status or in the needs of the child.
If you are unemployed as a result of an involuntary termination of employment… or are involved in an organized strike…or have incurred a loss of health…or are dealing with a similar involuntary adversity that has resulted in a loss of income of 25 percent or more, then upon the filing of a petition for modification of chid support based on such circumstances, the court must make every effort to expedite a hearing. Note that it is not an involuntary termination of employment if a parent leaves the employer without good cause.
The trier of fact (a judge or jury) will ascertain the reasons for the parent's occupational choices and assess the reasonableness of those choices in light of the parent's responsibility to support his or her child - and whether those choices benefit the child.
In determining if the unemployment or underemployment is willful or voluntary, the Court may consider various factors, including, but not limited to, the parent's past and present employment, education and training, a parent's ownership of valuable assets and resources (i.e. an expensive home or automobile that appear inappropriate or unreasonable for the income claimed by the parent), and the parent’s health and ability to work outside the home.
The circumstances surrounding your unemployment is something you should discuss with an experienced family law attorney, along with any change in the other parent's income and/or in the needs of the child. Best of luck to you.
This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as nor does it constitute legal advice. This answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Do not rely on this answer in prosecuting or defending against any criminal or civil legal action. Speak to an attorney in your area about how to protect yourself and your interests.