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Does Child Support Automatically Terminate When A Child Is Emancipated?

Does Child Support Automatically Terminate When A Child Is Emancipated?

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By David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Friday, May 3, 2019.

Several years ago, the Washington Redskins’ Hall-of-Fame running back, John Riggins, learned a very expensive lesson about modifying child support in Virginia. Following a divorce, John was paying child support to his former wife for their four (4) children. As each of his children became emancipated, John reduced the amount of his monthly child support payment in a proportionate amount. Once his fourth, and last, child became emancipated John thought that his child support obligation had finally ended – WRONG!

John’s former wife sued him for the amount of child support over the years that he had decreased due to the progressive emancipation of his children. The former Mrs. Riggins was successful in her effort, and obtained a 6-figure judgment against John for the unpaid child support.

At first glance, this sounds like a completely illogical result. If a father is paying a specific amount of support for four (4) children, one would think that, as each child becomes emancipated, the amount of child support would properly reduce by 25%. Unfortunately, this is not the way that Virginia child support law works.

The general rule is, actually, quite simple and basic. When a Virginia court has entered an order that establishes an amount of child support, then the amount of child support required to be paid can only be changed through another order. This means that, as a child becomes emancipated, there is no automatic decrease in support; rather, a new court order must be entered that reflects the appropriate reduction in child support based upon the parents’ respective incomes at that time.

This rule in Virginia is extremely important to anyone paying child support; otherwise one could easily find himself commiserating with John Riggins.

If you have an issue regarding a modification of child support, either to increase or decrease, any of the attorneys at Duff & Kronfeld would be happy to assist you.  Simply call (703) 591-7475, to schedule a complimentary, 30-minute phone consultation.

 

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