Tag Archive for: child support modification

by Michael F. Callahan

Child support can be modified in Virginia post-judgment if there has been a material change in circumstance since entry of the order setting child support.  Section 20-108 of the Code of Virginia provides that the court may modify child support or custody as the changed circumstances of the parents and the benefit of the children may require.

The Court can act upon the petition of a parent, a probation officer or the Department of Social Services, setting forth the reasons for the relief sought.  The court can also act on its own initiative but this is something we have never seen.  Support can be retroactively modified only from the date that notice of the pending petition requesting modification has been given to the other party.

Child support can be modifiedChild support can always be modified. This right cannot be altered.

The parties to a marital settlement agreement can preclude later changes by the court for most provisions. For example, they can agree on non-modifiable alimony, and then no court can modify it at any time for any reason in the future.

However, the same cannot be said for parties child support. No matter what the parties say in their agreement, child support is always modifiable by the court.

If your spouse agrees to no child support in return for transfer of the house, and you transfer the house, can child support later be claimed?  Yes, child support is not the parent’s claim to waive. It belongs to the children. Similarly, an agreement that a certain child related-expense will not be covered, like orthodontic services, is not enforceable.

by Michael F. Callahan

You need solid information upon which to base a claim for modification of child support.  So when we represent payees we generally include a requirement to exchange tax returns or annual income documents like W-2’s and 1099’s annually or bi-annually.

If you are being paid child support, and don’t know whether the payer’s income has increased, it’s sometimes risky to proceed on mere suspicion rather than solid information.

And if  your income has decreased that may not help because the child support payee’s income does not change support amount much at most income levels under the guidelines adopted in 2010 by Maryland.

If, on the other hand, you are paying child support, and the payee’s income increases, and therefore you think the payee does not “need” all of the originally ordered support, you may not be successful in reducing child support under the revised guidelines.

You can modify child support after divorce in Maryland if there has been a material change in circumstance since entry of the Order setting child support.  The applicable MD statute is Section 12-104 of the Family Law Article which provides

Modification of child support

(a) The court may modify a child support award subsequent to the filing of a motion for modification and upon a showing of a material change of circumstance.

Modification not retroactive

(b) The court may not retroactively modify a child support award prior to the date of the filing of the motion for modification.

Material means 1) relevant to child support and 2) of sufficient magnitude to justify a change.  There is no bright-line cut-off stating any required minimum change in support.   Obviously, the process requires time, effort and money, so minor increases or decreases may not be worth pursuing.