A child support order typically reflects the financial circumstances at the moment it was drafted. But those circumstances may change over time, which can in turn make the agreement inappropriate given the present conditions. When this occurs, you need to understand when and how you can modify your family’s Virginia child support order.
Child Support Orders in Virginia
In Virginia, a child support order is calculated by taking several factors into account, including:
- The respective incomes of both parents, including their salaries, passive income, pensions, etc.
- The custody arrangement, including whether the family has a sole physical custody order or joint custody arrangement, and how much time each parent spends with the child or children
- The level of financial support and resources that the parents could have provided to the child or children had the parents stayed together
In instances where a child spends significantly more time with one parent, the other parent will normally be obligated to pay some amount of child support to the sole custody parent or parent of the primary residence.
When Can a Child Support Order Be Modified?
Because child support constitutes a right that belongs to the child and not the child’s primary custodial parent, a court will only modify a child support order if one or both parents can show that the family’s circumstances have changed significantly since the time the support order was initially entered. Examples of changed circumstances that may warrant a court to modify a child support order include:
- The paying parent has experienced a substantial decrease in their income or has lost their employment
- Either parent has experienced a substantial increase in income or has acquired new assets, such as through an inheritance or gambling winnings
- The child’s financial needs have increased, such as due to new medical expenses or increased educational costs
- The family’s custody arrangement has changed, with primary physical custody switching from one parent to another or the balance of time that the child or children spend with each parent changing
- The child has become emancipated, or has reached 18 years of age and no longer requires financial support from their parents
What Is the Process of Modifying a Support Order?
A child support order can only be modified by filing a motion with the court that issued the order. Parents cannot agree among themselves to change a child support arrangement because child support belongs to the child. In addition, without a formal court order changing the child support arrangement, either parent can back out of an informal modification agreement at any time and demand that the other parent comply with the court order.
When you file a motion to modify child support, you will need to submit evidence to prove that circumstances have changed. This evidence may take the form of documentation that you or your ex have experienced a substantial increase or decrease in income or a loss of employment, that one of you has acquired an inheritance or other new assets, or that your child’s expenses have substantially increased. In most cases, the court will hold a hearing to consider your evidence, and for you and your ex to argue in favor of or against modifying the child support order.
Contact Invictus Law for Help
If you have questions about modifying a child support order, contact the Virginia child support attorneys of Invictus Law for a consultation to discuss your case and to learn more about how our skilled legal team can assist you.