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When Can A Child Support Agreement Be Modified In Virginia?

When Can a Child Support Agreement Be Modified in Virginia?


Divorced couples and co-parents must be on the same page regarding child support. The payments are necessary to provide minor children with basic needs, such as housing, food, education, and healthcare.

One parent provides the other parent with a predetermined payment, regularly for a specific duration. Pursuant to Code of Virginia § 20-124.2, support shall continue to be paid for any child over the age of 18 who is (i) a full-time high school student, (ii) not self-supporting, and (iii) living in the home of the party seeking or receiving child support, until the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.

The court may also order the continuation of support for any child over the age of 18 who is (a) severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, (b) unable to live independently and support himself, and (c) residing in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support.

According to Virginia Code § 20-108, either parent can petition the court to modify a child support agreement if they can prove that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the circumstances that existed when the original order was made. Although the terms included in the initial agreement worked for some time, a significant event in your life could cause an older order to require some updates.

 When Can I Petition to Modify a Child Support Agreement? 

You can request to modify a current child support order upon a material change in circumstances. Some examples of material changes in circumstances are as follows:

  • Either parent starts a high-paying job or receives a pay raise that increases their income by 25% or more
  • The supporting parent loses their job
  • The child suffers a health problem or disability, requiring additional care
  • The supporting parent changes jobs or gets demoted, resulting in at least 25% lower income
  • The child turns 18 years old, becomes emancipated, or graduates from high school and does not require financial support from their parents
  • The premiums for the child’s dental or health insurance increase by at least 25%
  • Either parent receives substantial money from an inheritance
  • The court-ordered child support agreement does not include provisions for the child’s dental and health insurance costs
  • The cost of childcare increases by at least 25%
  • It has been three years or more since the last time the order was reviewed

What Steps Do I Need to Take to Modify a Child Support Agreement?

Making changes to your child support order requires following various steps. It is critical to hire an experienced child support modification lawyer to represent you in your case. Many divorced couples can resolve child support matters amicably. However, if you do not follow the necessary procedure and file the appropriate documentation with the court, you could end up with an unenforceable agreement.

After hiring a lawyer, you should review the current child support order together. These documents can contain confusing language and terms you might not understand. Your lawyer can review it and explain what everything means so you know what changes you need to make.

If any significant changes took place in either of your lives, you and your ex should exchange documentation. Whether you lost your job, or your ex received a raise at work, sharing financial information is crucial to modify the child support order adequately.

You can attempt to negotiate the new terms of the agreement outside of court with the help of your lawyers. In fact, it is best to avoid litigation if possible. Litigating a child support case can be costly and time-consuming.

Your lawyer can draft the Motion to Amend and file it with the court on your behalf. Even if you make arrangements with your ex outside of court, the judge must review the document and issue a new order. 

Is a Verbal Agreement Enough?

No. Whether you pay or receive child support payments, you should never depend on a verbal agreement with the other parent. Many divorced couples believe the other person will honor their word and maintain the verbal agreement they made. Sometimes, that does not happen. For these reasons and others, child support payments should never be made in cash. Child support should always be paid via an easily tracible method, i.e., Zelle, online banking, check, and the like. Money Orders are also not recommended because if you lose the stub associated with the money order, you likely will not be able to prove the payment.

Unfortunately, circumstances can change, requiring an increase or decrease in the payment amount. If your ex loses their job, they will likely need higher payments. However, you might have experienced a recent pay cut and cannot provide more money to support your child. Without a court order to back up the verbal agreement you made; your ex could pursue a modified agreement.

How We Can Help

At Taylor, Taylor & Taylor, Inc., we represent Glen Allen, VA, clients facing child support matters. We could help you with your modification, so the payments reflect your current circumstances.

If you want to modify a current child support order or resolve a dispute, contact one of our Glen Allen family lawyers today for a confidential consultation.

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