Once a family law judge makes a child support decree in Virginia, that order goes into effect and is enforceable until the child turns 18 and graduates high school or turns 19. However, the court retains jurisdiction over the matter, and a family law attorney can explain how and under what circumstances the original support order may be modified.
The Child’s Needs May Change
The factors the court considered when establishing the original support order may not stay the same as time progresses. Certainly the individual needs of a child may change as they progress in age in such areas as:
• Child care
• Health care
Also, the financial situation of parents often changes as well. Either one may find themselves with more or less net income and different benefits that may impact the child.
Formal Amendment to the Child Support Order
It is never a good idea for the parents of the child to make an informal agreement to modify child support. Although lines of communication and cooperation are desirable, any modification should be done through the court as a formal amendment to the previous support order. This ensures the interest of both parties and the best interest of the child are protected.
Just as with original issues in the marital dissolution, if the respective parents agree on how they wish the support to be modified, they can jointly present that to the court; the court will almost always approve and make the modification part of a new court order. Absent an agreement, an attorney will usually advise the party seeking the modification to request a court hearing.
To successfully change the existing support amount, the party seeking the modification must demonstrate to the court that there has been a material change in circumstances and that the proposed modification would be in the best interest of the child. The opposing party will have the opportunity to respond and explain why they believe the existing order should remain in place.
Contact a Richmond Family Law Firm for Legal Advice
If you feel the child support order currently in place is unfair, explore your options by calling Smith Strong at 804-325-1245 (Richmond office) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg).