Virginia law expressly authorizes a Court to increase or decrease the amount of support, whether child support and/or spousal support, involved in a divorce situation.
Once a judge has ordered that a specific amount of child or spousal support must be paid, that amount can only be changed in two ways – either: (1) the parties themselves agree upon a new figure for support; or (2) a judge decides that a different amount of support is appropriate, under the then-existing circumstances. While the former procedure can occur any time that the two parties are able to reach a mutual agreement for a modification in the support amount, the latter can occur only after the judge has first received evidence from both parties, and determined that there has been a “material change in circumstances” since the previous support order.
The law recognizes the fact that an amount of support that was, at one time, appropriate under a certain set of factual circumstances, may not be appropriate when those factual circumstances take a drastic change. Unfortunately, the law does not provide a bright line text that explains precisely what constitutes a “material change in circumstances”. Each case is different, and will depend on its own set of facts.
Some of the more common examples of a “material change in circumstances” that have been deemed sufficient to modify the amount of child and/or spousal support, include:
- One party suddenly losing his or her job, though no fault of their own; or
- A child becoming “emancipated”, as defined by Virginia’s child support laws; or
- One party experiencing a significant increase in his or her income; or
- One party having a significant increase in his or her debt structure, often through unexpected medical expenses.
If you require legal assistance in modifying the amount of support that you currently pay, or receive, contact one of the attorneys at The Duff Law Firm for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation. (703) 591-7475.