Many judges in Virginia award child support to custodial parents when approving a divorce decree. If the non-custodial parent experiences a change in income, he or she may be eligible to request a modification of the original decree. However, the change will not occur automatically. The parent requesting a modification must file a petition with the court that granted the original decree.
Either parent may seek a modification of a previous order when there has been a material change in circumstances. Such a modification may be temporary or permanent, depending on the facts of the case. Examples of circumstances that might warrant a change in previous child support orders include a significant change in the child's needs, remarriage of one or both parents, a change in child support laws or job loss.
It is important for anyone who needs to request a modification of child support to understand that the change will not apply retroactively. For example, if a parent loses his or her job or becomes disabled but does not file for a modification for six months, the amount will not change until a judge signs the order granting a modification. The amount will also not change just because there is a verbal agreement with the custodial parent to accept a lower amount.
A parent who is in need of a child support modification may find that the assistance of a family law attorney is helpful. A family law attorney may be able to assist a parent requesting a child support modification request other changes based on altered circumstances, such as changes in the visitation schedule or a modification of custody. Before meeting with an attorney, it is important to gather up any documentation that may be considered relevant, such as tax returns and recent pay stubs.