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Support modification only for big changes in circumstance

Generally speaking, courts in Virginia will consider modifying an order of child support when there has been a substantial change in the level of need of the child or in the payor's income. People who have been ordered to pay child support might be eligible for a modification if they lose their job or have a reduction in income. For the parent receiving child support payments, modification might be available if the child has increased medical or education expenses.

In some states, reviews for child support modification are limited. For example, the relevant court might only hear a case for modification once every 24 months. If the amount of ordered support was modified in such a state 18 months ago, the parent will have to wait six more months before seeking another review.

Custodial parents should only make child support modification requests if they believe the other parent's income has significantly increased since the most recent order or if the child in question has substantially increased financial needs. This is especially true in jurisdictions that limit the frequency of reviews.

Non-custodial parents should request modification of a child support order only when they have a significant income decrease. Courts are likely to view reduction requests skeptically, and they'll deny them unless the parent's current income is substantially less than it was when the operative support order was entered.

Typically, child support modification requests require a formal motion filed with the family court overseeing the case. Parents who have questions about modifying child support might want to consult a lawyer. A lawyer with experience in family law might be able to help by analyzing the current and previous financial circumstances of the parties and offering an opinion as to the likelihood that a modification request will be successful. A lawyer may draft and file a motion to bring the request or argue on behalf of the client during family court hearings.

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