Modifying Child Support When Facing Job Loss 

Father with baby on his lap working on a computer

Child support in Virginia is determined according to the Virginia Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines consider how many children are involved and the income of both parents, so the child support you pay may differ from another parent’s, even if you have the same number of children.

But what happens if one of the parents is facing job loss? In today’s uncertain economy, this is a very real fear for many families. Child support-paying parents may wonder if they’ll be able to support their household plus fulfill their child support obligations if they get laid off. The parent receiving child support may worry about making ends meet if they lose their job or their hours are cut. Do you have legal options if you’re facing a job loss?

Family law courts in Virginia permit parents to seek a post-judgment modification of child support, but whether your petition is approved depends on many factors. You can’t just go before a judge and tell them you’re making less. An experienced family law attorney can help you present a strong petition for your request.

Job Loss and Changes in Child Support

Child support isn’t automatically modified if a parent loses a job or suffers a sudden, significant reduction in income. That parent must petition the court for a change in their support amount. The court might change their support obligation if the job loss was involuntary (such as being laid off or downsized). If the parent quits their job and is capable of gainful employment, then the court will likely deny their petition. The parent must also prove to the judge that they’re actively seeking new employment following the job loss.

How Do I Request a Change in Child Support in Virginia?

Requesting the change starts with filing a petition to do so with your county Family Law court. You must include supporting documentation, such as a notice of lay-off and proof that you’re looking for a new job. You’ll be scheduled for a hearing once your petition is filed.

The child’s other parent will be notified about your request and will have an opportunity to present their own argument against your petition if they choose.

What Does a Family Law Judge Consider When Modifying Child Support?

The judge considers the child’s best interest when making child support decisions and modifications. Other factors that may influence the judge’s determination include:

  • Why you lost your job. If you quit or were fired for cause, then the judge may not see this as a valid reason for modifying child support.
  • Whether you’re making good-faith efforts to find a new job. You may have to submit job search records or other types of proof that you’re looking for a new job, such as a record of attending a job fair, records of submitted resumes, or copies of emails setting up job interviews.
  • Your earning potential and previous income. The judge may consider your estimated earning potential, often based on your earning history, when making a decision about a child support modification.

If the court grants your petition for a reduction in child support, then the new amount will be based on the child support guidelines and your new income. However, you may be unable to avoid paying missed child support payments. The court views these as your legal obligation, so you may have to make up payments you missed, regardless of your change in income.

Do You Need Help with Virginia Child Support Modification?

If you lost your job and need help with a child support modification petition, call Surovell, Isaacs, & Levy, PLC. We can help you secure the proper documentation to support your modification petition and draft and file the petition in the appropriate court on your behalf. You have the right to legal representation in the support modification hearing, and we can represent you in that hearing. Call us today to get started and work toward the relief you need.

Posted in: Family Law