I have filed a motion, pro se, for modification of child support based on the loss of my job. This is in the state of Georgia and I completed the mandatory child support worksheet and submitted it along with proof of the loss of my job with the motion, My ex-wife's attorney responded with a request for a trial by jury. Can I file a motion requesting a bench hearing rather than a jury trial? Is a jury trial common for this type of child support modification, which should be based on numbers (income)?
Georgia's Constitution does not confer a fundamental right to a trial by jury in all cases, but where the right exists, it is inviolate. The right to a jury trial exists only in cases in which there existed a right to a jury trial at common law or by statute at the time of the adoption of the Georgia Constitution in 1798. In a modification of child support action, each party has the right to demand a trial by jury; however, he jury is authorized to determine the income of the parties and any appropriate deviations from the presumptive child support amount. The trial judge may modify the prior judgment, in accordance with the changed circumstances - whether in the income and financial status of either parent, or in the needs of the child, if such change warrants the modification and are in the child's best interest.
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.
While you can file a motion requesting a bench trial rather than jury, your motion would not be granted. Thus, there may be no benefit for doing so. While jury trials are not common in modification cases, once a request for a jury trial is made it must (by law) be granted.
The burden for proving your case remains the same regardless of whether it is being presented to a judge or a jury. You must show that your job loss was involuntary.
Good luck to you.
I hope this information helps answer your question(s).
~ 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.
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