Many residents of Northern Virginia believe that, when the court issues its final order and decree ending their marriages, no more formal legal proceedings will be necessary. This belief is correct for many couples, but for some individuals, changed circumstance can necessitate a return to court to modify one or more aspects of the judge’s child support order.
One of the most frequent reasons that individuals seek a modification of the original order for child support is a change in the financial circumstances of one or both ex-spouses. For example, each spouse may be earning approximately similar incomes when the divorce decree is entered, and child support is calculated accordingly. Suppose that, in five years, the ex-spouse who is paying child support experiences a significant increase in income. The ex-spouse who is receiving child support may view the changed situation as unfair. Is there a remedy? Yes – a motion to modify the amount of child support that is paid.
Either ex-spouse may bring such a motion. A parent whose income has decreased may ask the court to modify its original order to reflect the change in income. Other reasons for modifying an order for child support include 36 months have passed since the order was reviewed, a child needs to be added to the order, health care coverage costs may have changed, health care premiums have increased by 25 percent or more, the existing order does not include a provision for reimbursed medical and dental costs, the custodial parent’s work-related child care expenses have increased by 25 percent or more, or either parent’s income has changed by at least 25 percent.
When basing a request for child support modification on changed circumstances such as a change in one parent’s income or child care expense, the parent who is requesting the modification must prove the relevant facts by clear and convincing evidence. The state of Virginia provides many aids to parents who want to modify an existing order for child support, but the advice of an experienced divorce attorney can be beneficial in drafting the motion and appearing in court.