Child support is calculated based on the income of both parents at the time of the custody hearing. If the income changes for one or both parents at some point, then the child support order can be modified to reflect that. For example, if you are the parent who pays child support and you lose your job, you can request a modification to the order. Likewise, if you are the custodial parent and you discover that the supporting parent’s income has substantially increased, you can also request a modification. We take a look at the circumstances that could lead to a change in a child support order.
Acceptable Circumstances for Child Support Modification
Your income can be impacted by a number of factors, causing it to rise and fall from one year to the next, even if your salary hasn’t changed. However, these fluctuations—no matter how unpredictable—do not justify a child support order modification. Inflation, buying a more expensive house, being sued, remarrying, or other similar situations are not acceptable reasons to modify a child support order. Potentially acceptable reasons for a change include:
- Job loss. An order could change if either parent has lost their job. If the paying parent has lost their job, the support could go down, and if the custodial parent has lost their job, the support could be increased. However, voluntarily quitting a job rather than being laid-off or fired would not likely convince the court to modify an order.
- Change in income of at least 25%. If either parent experiences a significant increase or decrease in annual income, an order could be modified to reflect that. Examples include work promotion or demotion, inheritance, career change, sale of property, or another major change in income.
- Medical issues or disability. If either parent or a child covered by the order becomes seriously ill or disabled, the order could be modified to accommodate the new circumstances.
- Substantial increase in cost of child’s care. An increase of at least 25% in daycare cost, school tuition, insurance premiums, ongoing medical expenses, or other necessary expenditure could warrant a modification.
- Change in a child’s status. If one of the children covered by the order reaches the age of 18, graduates from high school, or becomes emancipated, the order can be changed to account for supporting fewer children.
- Addition of more children. If the paying parent becomes financially responsible for other children through another divorce, paternity suit, or remarriage, the amount owed in the original order could be reduced.
Whether you are requesting the modification as the paying parent or the custodial parent, you will have to provide solid justification for the change to the court or the Virginia Department of Social Services. If you are the paying parent, you cannot just stop making payments or pay a different amount without an official modification. At James E. Short, PLC, we can help with a child support modification request, whether we represented you during the divorce or custody hearing or not. Child support orders are not easy to change, so our legal advice could save you time and frustration.
Why Orders Are Not Easy to Change
A lot of information goes into calculating child support orders, including the total income of both parents, who the child or children will live with, and the level of care and financial support the parents would have provided if they had stayed together. All decisions are made with the children’s best interests in mind—not with what is most convenient for the parents. As a result, the court will not take change requests lightly. You will need to build a strong case with the help of a family lawyer.
Call James E. Short, PLC, to Discuss Your Child Support Issue
Whether you are the custodial parent who thinks you should be getting more in child support payments from the other parent or the non-custodial parent who thinks you should be paying less due to your financial situation, a family lawyer can help. When you contact James Short, he will explain your rights and options and help you figure out the best way to support your children. Fill out our contact page or call our Chesapeake office at 757-410-5042.