Virginia parents raising children on their own greatly benefit from monetary contributions from the other parent in the form of child support. Once child support is established through a child support order, it is common for circumstances to change from time to time, for either parent.
Sometimes the parent receiving or paying child support will receive an increase in salary, or other life change resulting in a change in their financial situation. They may then wish to modify the current child support order to reflect the new financial conditions.
Rules surrounding the change in amount
In Virginia, the amount of child support paid under a child support order can be modified by filing either a motion to adjust or a petition to modify. Before doing either, it is important to know that the law does not allow the amount of child support to be changed unless the amount of new child support would be at least 10% or higher than the current amount of child support being paid.
Additionally, this rule only applies to child support orders that have been in place for 3 years or more. For orders in place for less than 3 years, the change in support must be at least 15%, and there must be a material change in circumstances. A material change can be one of several things, such as a change in the custody schedule, a change in employment or child-related expenses or various other factors.
If the new amount of child support is high enough to qualify for a change in the amount of legally ordered support, a motion to adjust child support can be filed if the amount is consistent with the child support guidelines and the different amount is not going to be temporary. In contrast, a petition to modify child support may be filed even if the proposed amount is not consistent with the child support guidelines.
Both a motion and a petition to modify child support must qualify under their respective rules to be considered by a court. Knowing if you qualify to file for a change in child support, and if so, what pleading to file, can be confusing. Family law attorneys are familiar with the requirements and can provide guidance through the process.