Can I Get Child Support Modified in Virginia?
Are you a separated or divorced parent who is wondering whether it is possible to get a child support order modified in Virginia? If so, the short answer to your question is – yes, it is possible. It can be difficult, however, and modifications are only granted under certain circumstances.
How Child Support is Calculated in Virginia
Under Virginia law, the amount of child support to be paid by a parent is decided based on the ‘Income Shares Model’, which takes the following factors into account.
- The income of both parents – including salary, bonuses, commissions, rental income, dividends from investments, pension, prize winnings, and royalties.
- Whether the child lives with one parent (sole custody) or spends the same amount of time with both parents (joint custody).
- The level of care and financial support that the parents might have provided to the child if they had stayed together.
In a vast majority of cases, the parent with whom the child spends most of his or her time with is entitled to receive child support from the other parent. Such an arrangement ensures that both parents contribute their fair share; one parent takes care of the child and the other parent provides financial assistance.
Modifying a Child Support Order in Virginia
Under Virginia law, a child support order can be modified on the request of either of the parents. The parent who requests the order to be modified, however, needs to show that the circumstances under which the original order was issued have changed to a considerable extent.
According to Section 20-108 of Virginia Code, a child support order can be modified under the following circumstances.
- If the parent who pays child support has lost their job;
- If the income of the parent who pays child support has decreased substantially – at least by 25% or more – due to a demotion or job change;
- If either of the parents gets a substantial raise or lands a high-paying job;
- If either of the parents inherits a substantial amount of money;
- If there is a substantial increase – at least by 25% or more – in the cost of childcare;
- If the child has developed a disability or is suffering from a health problem and requires additional care as a result;
- If the child support order issued by the court does not have any provisions for the costs associated with the child’s health and dental insurance;
- If there is a substantial increase – at least by 25% or more – in the child’s health or dental insurance premiums;
- If the child has become emancipated, reached the age of 18, or graduated from high school and no longer needs financial assistance from his or her parents.
Under any of the aforementioned circumstances, the court might decide to modify the order of child support – as long as the modifications do not have any adverse impact on the level of care provided to the child by the parents.
Verbal Agreement – A Mistake Which Should Be Avoided
If you are the parent who pays child support, you should not make the mistake of modifying your child support payments based on a verbal agreement with your ex-spouse.
Let’s say you have been terminated by your employer. You are supposed to pay $500 in child support every month, but you cannot afford to do so until you find another job. So, you call up you ex-spouse, explain your situation to them, and ask them if they are okay with a lower amount. Upon reaching a verbal agreement, you decide to pay $200 a month in child support until you find another job.
In such a scenario, if your ex-spouse suddenly changes their mind and decides to take you to court for not paying $500 a month, they can easily do so as the existing child support order was not legally modified and you had no right to lower the payment by yourself.
So, if you need the child support to be modified for any reason, you should protect yourself by petitioning the court and get it modified legally.
Family Law Attorneys in Virginia
Modifying a child support order can be a complex process as there are a wide range of factors that need to be taken into consideration before doing so. For this reason, it is prudent to obtain the help of an experienced child support lawyer who can guide you through the process and make sure that your rights as a parent are protected throughout.
The attorneys at Buck, Toscano, & Tereskerz, Ltd have several years of experience handling divorce, child support, child custody, and other areas of family law. If you need to get your child support order modified or you need help with any other family legal issue, contact our attorneys at 434-977-7977 or message us online to schedule a consultation.