The law in Virginia recognizes that things usually change in the years after the divorce. Exes find someone new to marry or move out of state. Children grow into teenagers and eventually reach adulthood. One ex might go back to school and enter into a lucrative new career, while the other suffers a disabling injury and can no longer work.
These are just examples of the myriad ways lives can go up or down as time goes by. Among the consequences of these events is that a noncustodial parent who has been ordered to pay juvenile maintenance may someday struggle to pay it, or gain the means to pay more to his or her kids.
If one or both parents believe the current juvenile maintenance is no longer appropriate, it is possible to request a review and adjustment.
The Virginia Department of Social Services provides a form for requesting such a review.
Generally, in Virginia at least three years must have passed since the juvenile maintenance order was made for a parent to request a review. If it has not been three years, the parent must cite a “special circumstance,” such as:
- A new child needs to be added to the order, due to birth or modification in custody.
- A child is no longer eligible for support at the current level.
- One parent’s income has increased or decreased by at least 25 percent.
- One parent is an in the National Guard or military reserves has been called to active duty and is experiencing a modification in income as a result.
Even if three years have passed, you must provide a reason for requesting the review on the request form.
If granted, the requested modification could make a significant difference in the children’s lives.
When can child support orders be changed?
Child support orders cannot be changed on a whim or because a court thinks that “it is time.” It must be based on evidence proving that there is good reason to make the modification. In general, requests to review juvenile maintenance may be filed after three years have passed since the original juvenile maintenance order was put in place. This usually requires that a person who wants to make the modification show a changed circumstance. You must show that the facts that existed when the last order was entered have changed. In the many years a juvenile maintenance order is in place, the parent’s circumstances may modify many times. For example, in Virginia, if one parent’s income has changed (either gone up or down) by at least 25%, this is considered a big enough modification to require a change in the support order. You can request a modification prior to the three years being up or for a lesser change in income, but you will have to show special circumstances to support the requested change and are not necessarily guaranteed a change in the support order.
Circumstances that Might Warrant a Change
You cannot request a juvenile maintenance modification just because you think the other party is not paying enough. There must be evidence and justification to warrant the change. Modifications can be made to either increase or decrease the amount of child support.
Some reasons that might justify a change in juvenile maintenance include:
- A child become disabled or ill and requires additional care.
- The loss of a job or substantial loss of income by one parent.
- A new job or substantial raise by one parent.