By Adam T. Kronfeld of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Thursday, June 12, 2014.
Determination of child support in Virginia is controlled by statute. In the vast majority of situations in which child support is ordered to be paid by one party to another, the amount of support is calculated by implementation of a formula contained in Virginia Code § 20-108.2. Included in that statute is a chart delineating the amount of financial support that children are presumed will need depending upon the number of children and the combined incomes of the parents. That amount of support is then apportioned between the parents based on their respective income shares and other variables, such as the cost of work-related day care and health insurance for the children.
In early 2014, for the first time in a decade, the Virginia legislature has modified the child support chart contained in Virginia Code § 20-108.2. This means that all guideline child support calculations – first-time determinations and modifications alike – made after July 1, 2014 must be based on the new chart. What does this mean for you? If you have a child support agreement or order in which you are either obligated to pay or are entitled to receive child support from another party, then this change to the support guidelines could provide an opportunity to revisit and adjust the amount of the child support payments.
At the time that your existing child support agreement order was signed, you may have been advised by a judge or attorney that the child support amount could be modified based on a “material change in circumstances.” Common “material changes” warranting a modification of child support include changes to parents’ income or changes in the cost of health insurance, custodial time, or work-related day care. However, Virginia law also stands for the proposition that the legislature changing the child support chart by itself can constitute the “material change” required to revisit child support, even if there have been no other changes in the parties’ circumstances. In other words, if you calculate child support based on the new chart using the exact same “inputs” that you did in the past, and if the amount either increases or decreases, that alone would give the court the opportunity to modify the child support amount.
A change to your obligation or entitlement is not necessarily guaranteed, however. If the change to the amount is only slight, then a Court may not be required to order the new support amount. Where the change is significant, however, a Court may very well modify the child support payable, which over time could add up to a sizeable amount of money saved or received.
Please contact an attorney at The Duff Law Firm for a free thirty-minute consultation to determine how your child support calculation differs under the new guidelines, the likelihood of a Court modifying the existing obligation, and whether it would be worthwhile for you to pursue such a modification.