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Modifying child support when circumstances change

Some Virginia parents who are ordered to pay child support may find it difficult to make payments. If the parent has experienced a major change in financial circumstances, it may be possible to seek and obtain a modification of the ordered amount to reflect the change in income.

Changes in income or in a person’s financial circumstances normally result when they get a new job or become unemployed. A child support modification may be made on either a temporary or permanent basis. Common reasons to file a modification might include losing a job, becoming disabled, either parent going to jail or prison, either parent having a substantial income increase or if a child becomes more dependent on certain needs.

Either parent may file a motion to modify the child support order. Since any modification will not be applied retroactively, it is important for the movant to file as soon as possible after the change in circumstances happens. Until the modification is granted by the court, the paying parent should continue making the payments that were ordered under the existing child support order.

Child support is meant to provide a child with the standard of living that may have been enjoyed if the parents had stayed together. However, courts do understand that a parent’s financial circumstances may change. If a person needs to modify a child support amount, he or she may want to get help from a family law attorney. A lawyer may help a person whose income has dropped significantly try to get the payment amount reduced. If a lawyer represents a custodial parent who wants to get the amount increased because of an increase in the child’s needs or another reason, an attorney may assist with that as well.

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