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When can you modify your child support payments?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2019 | Family Law

When parents get a divorce, one parent will almost always have to pay child support – even if they share joint custody. After all, in Virginia, children are entitled to access the same amount of financial support they would receive if the family still lived in one household.

However, if the details of the child support agreement no longer meet the child’s needs or the parent’s ability to pay, it might be necessary for parents to request a modification.

When can parents request to modify child support?

There are several reasons that parents could petition to modify their child support agreement and obligations. Generally, all of these reasons boil down to three categories:

  1. The parent’s income: Of course, the amount that parents pay depends heavily on their monthly income. If a parent’s income has changed by 25%, they can request to modify their obligations. These circumstances might occur as a result of a parent losing their job.
  2. The child’s needs: Our children and their needs can change substantially as they age. For example, children often stop attending daycare when they start school. Therefore, that portion of the childcare costs may no longer be necessary under the child support agreement.
  3. Time: Often, the passage of time can also be enough reason to modify a child support agreement. Under Virginia law, parents can request a modification if three years have passed since the last time the court reviewed the child support agreement.

These reasons alone might not guarantee a modification

Most of the time, Virginia family courts will grant modifications if the request stems from the three categories listed above. However, it is important to note a few things, including:

  • The other parent may protest the modification. It might be beneficial to discuss the modification with the other parent before submitting the request to the court;
  • Courts will still carefully investigate the request to verify that the parent’s or family’s circumstances have changed; and
  • They will also use the same legal guidelines as they did when they determined the original child support agreement. Essentially, they will always take the child’s best interests into account in addition to the changed circumstances.

Requesting a child support modification can be a detailed process. The knowledgeable family law attorneys at Bowen Ten Long & Bal, PC, will guide parents and families through the entire process to help them find agreements that best meet their entire family’s needs.