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Can I adjust child support payments after a change in income?

When establishing a child support order, legal professionals in Virginia review numerous details about a family’s situation. The overall breakdown of parenting time, the unique needs of the children and also the income of both parents will influence support. In some cases, even one’s standard of living during the marital relationship or prior to the parental breakup can influence support expectations.

There’s often a lot of tension between the parent paying support and the parent receiving support in Virginia. Specifically, those making child support payments often feel like too much of their income goes to the other parent’s household each month, while those receiving support often worry about how they will pay their bills with the limited amount of financial support that they receive while providing for much of their children’s needs.

If there has been a noteworthy change in either party’s household income, is it possible to ask the Virginia courts to change or modify the existing support order?

Yes, financial changes may justify a modification

To update a child support order, a parent needs to request a formal modification. The modification process involves requesting a review and possibly a hearing in family court. The parent asking for a change to the support amount will generally need to submit evidence of how financial circumstances have changed.

When there has been a drop in income, the parent paying support could ask to reduce what they pay. However, there are minimum support amounts that often apply, and the state won’t eliminate someone’s obligations just because they lose their job or have to take a lower-paying position. If the difference in income is significant and the current payment is above the minimum amount, a parent may be able to reduce their obligations so they don’t fall into arrears.

If the person making less is the parent who receives support, their drop in income could potentially influence the other spouse’s obligations. Additionally, if the parent receiving support experiences a drastic increase in income, their improved circumstances might justify the other parent asking for a reduction in their support obligations.

A drastic change in household revenue is one of the many situations that could potentially justify a child support modification under current Virginia statutes. Seeking legal guidance is generally a good idea before initiating – or when responding to – the modification process.

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