Needing to change your child support agreement can come from a number of things. You may have just lost a job or gotten a job that pays substantially less from your former job. The child custody arrangement may have been significantly altered. The needs of the child may have greatly changed. If you need to change your child support agreement, you will need to do so through obtaining a court order. The court will want to hear why you are requesting the change and why it should be granted.
The ability to change your child support agreement will largely hinge on when and why you need the change. Generally speaking, Virginia law requires that three years or more have passed since the original order was put in place before a parent can request a review. Prior to the passing of three years, the parent requesting the review must provide a reason and explain why special circumstances should allow review of the order. The request may be made because the parent has experienced a significant reduction in income (by at least 25%). Alternatively, a request may be made because there has been a change in the custody arrangement. There are other reasons that may qualify you for a child support order review prior to the three-year mark.
If you and the other parent who is party to the original child support agreement both agree to a change in the child support agreement, the change may be made at any time if it is accepted by the judge. If you both wish to increase the amount of child support being paid, it will most likely be accepted by the judge. A reduction in the amount of child support payments, however, will be met with greater scrutiny. You will need to show the court why this reduced amount is still fair which will involve explaining why circumstances have changed. Even if you both agree to a change in the child support amount, a judge does not have to accept the change.
It is important to note that you must get a new order from the court before changing a child support arrangement. Simply reaching an unofficial or oral agreement is not enough and can be extremely problematic. If you depend on an oral agreement and the other party later changes his or her mind and chooses not to honor that agreement, you will most likely be facing some serious legal penalties. You could be forced to pay a large sum of money for back child support.
Child support payments can have a big impact on your finances. You can also get into legal trouble if you are unable to keep up with payments. If you have any questions about your child support arrangement or need to make changes to an already existing child support order, our family law attorneys at Fairfax Law Firm can help you. Contact us today.