In life, situations can change rapidly. If you pay or receive child support in Virginia, you may be wondering if it’s possible to get a child support order modification. While it is possible to modify a child support order, it can be challenging. Courts only grant child support modifications under certain limited circumstances, mainly when there has been a material change in circumstances.
How Can a Virginia Child Support Modification Lawyer Help You?
If you would like to petition the court to change your child support, the experienced family law attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC are here to help. We will make the process much less stressful and taxing on you by handling your case from beginning to end. After meeting with you and discussing your case, we will advise you of your legal options. Our lawyers have an in-depth understanding of Virginia family law and what it takes to petition the court to modify a child support agreement successfully. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.
Virginia Child Support Calculations
Virginia courts use an “income shares” model to determine how much one parent should pay in child support. This model takes the following factors into account:
- both parents’ income, including their salaries, bonuses, dividends, and commissions
- whether the child lives with one parent who has sole custody or with both parents
- the level of financial support and care that the parents might have provided to the child had they stayed together
In most child support cases, the parent who spends the most time with the child will be entitled to receive child support from the other parent. This type of arrangement makes sure that each parent contributes his or her fair share to the raising of the child. In this arrangement, one parent will take care of the child, and the other parent will provide financial assistance that the child needs.
There are special situations that impact a spouse’s ability to pay spousal support. For example, perhaps you have gone through a divorce and are unsatisfied with the child support order from the judge. In addition, you may be in a special situation in which your child has developed special needs, or the cost of visitation is expensive, impacting your ability to pay child support. Instead of stopping child support payment, it’s wise to speak to an experienced lawyer about modifying your order.
Modifying a Child Support Order in Virginia
According to Virginia law, either parent can request a modification of a child support order. The parent who petitions the court to modify the order needs to show that the circumstances under which the original order was issued have changed considerably. Specifically, judges in Virginia can modify a child support order under the following circumstances:
- the income of the parent who pays child support has decreased by at least 25 percent or more due to a demotion or job change
- the parent who pays child support lost his or her job
- either the parents received a substantial raise or was hired at a high-paying job
- either of the parents inherits a substantial amount of money
- there is a substantial increase in the cost of childcare by at least 25 percent or more
- the child has developed a disability or medical condition that requires additional care
- the child support order does not have any provisions for the cost associated with health insurance and dental insurance
- there is a substantial increase in the child’s health or dental insurance premiums by at least 25% or more
- the child has become emancipated, reach the age of 18, or graduated from high school and no longer needs financial assistance from the parents
If one or more of these circumstances applies to your situation, the court may grant you a child support modification. However, the court will not modify your child support order if it will adversely impact the level of care provided to the child by the parents.
Verbal Modifications Are Not Enforceable
Sometimes parents assume that they can agree to modify the child support order outside of the Court. However, if you are the parent who pays child support, you can’t modify your child support payments based on a verbal agreement you made with your co-parent. Even if you both agree, the modification will not be considered legally binding. For example, suppose you lost your job, and you cannot pay the $500 in monthly child support you’ve been ordered to pay by the court. You may call your co-parent and explain your situation, asking them if they’re okay with receiving $200 a month until you find another job.
In this situation, it’s common for a co-parent to suddenly change his or her mind and decide to take the paying spouse to court for not paying the child support amount. The spouse receiving child support can easily do so because the existing order hasn’t been legally modified. You have no legal authority to lower the payment by yourself, even if it is justified. If you need your child support order modified for any reason, you should speak to an attorney who can help you petition the court to modify it legally.
Contact a Fairfax County Child Support Lawyer Today
Modifying your child support order can be a complicated process. Many factors need to be taken into consideration before you petition the court to modify your order. Courts do not like to modify child support orders unless there is a material change in circumstances that justify doing so. Therefore, it’s wise to obtain the help of a skilled child support lawyer who can guide you through the process. The attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC will make sure your rights as a parent are protected. If you need to get your child support order modified, contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.