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Modifying child support orders in Virginia

Family law judges in Virginia follow a set of strict guidelines when determining how much child support a noncustodial parent should pay, but their decisions may be revisited and child support orders modified when the situation of one or both of the parents changes significantly. Child support modifications are often ordered when health care premiums or the incomes of either the custodial or noncustodial parent increase or decrease by 25% or more.

Many parents are not aware that they can petition the court to modify child support orders, which is why many noncustodial parents struggle to meet their financial responsibilities after suffering a financial setback. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, almost half of the 5,845,000 American parents who are entitled to child support do not receive the full amount each month. While deadbeat dads do exist, many of these noncustodial parents simply do not have enough money to pay on time.

When child support orders are modified, the monthly payment is usually lowered because the noncustodial parent has lost their job, was demoted or is unable to work due to illness or injury. However, awards may be increased if noncustodial parents are promoted or receive a significant raise. Child support payments in Virginia may also be increased or decreased when the financial situations of custodial parents change as state guidelines take the incomes of both parents into account.

The amount of time that each parent spends with the child is also considered when child support is calculated. Experienced family law attorneys may encourage parents to consider joint custody arrangements in divorce cases as the courts prefer it and research shows that children tend to fare better. The amount of child support that noncustodial parents will be required to pay could also be an important factor when alimony is discussed.

Source: The Office of Child Support Enforcement, Changing a Child Support Order in Virginia