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Virginia Child Support Law Changes

Many parents with child support orders question how that order can be modified. After consulting with an attorney or researching online, parents may find that to modify an existing child support order, a material change in circumstance is needed. A “material change in circumstance” can be a variety of things but in many cases, it is a change in a parent’s income.

Child Support Payor Must Share Changes in Employment Status

Inevitably, the follow-up question is, “how will I know if there is a change of income?” Until July 1, 2021, the disappointing and frustrating answer has been that there is no statutory mechanism for income or employment disclosures. Previously, neither parent was required to disclose or exchange a change in employment or income. But starting July 1, 2021, that is no longer the case.

Beginning July 1, 2021, according to Virginia Law all child support orders are required to include the following language:

“If child support payments are ordered to be paid through the Department of Social Services, a provision requiring an obligor to keep the Department of Social Services informed, or if payments are ordered to be paid directly to the obligee, a provision requiring an obligor to keep the court informed, of (i) the name, address, and telephone number of his current employer; (ii) any change to his employment status; and (iii) if he has filed a claim for or is receiving benefits under the provisions of Title 60.2. The provision shall further specify that any such change in employment status or filing of a claim shall be communicated to the Department of Social Services or the court in writing within 30 days of such change or filing.”

Why this Change to Virginia Child Support Law is Significant

When the payor parent sends the required information to the Department of Social Services or the court, the other parent should also receive a copy. This is significant in that it will allow the parent receiving child support on behalf of the child(ren) to know whether a material change in circumstance may exist. If you are the parent receiving child support and receive this notice, it is important to consult with a skilled family law practitioner so that you know your rights and how best to proceed.

How to Modify a Virginia Child Support Order

Some people may assume this new notice requirement will result in additional and costly litigation, but that does not have to be the case. A seasoned family law attorney will encourage and attempt to exchange information and negotiate a settlement prior to litigation and/or before the final trial. The goal is to support the children through proper child support payments and doing so without lengthy and contested litigation is always best.

It is important to note that the statutory change does not require that the parent receiving child support advise of any employment change. Perhaps that change will be forthcoming in future legislative sessions.

Our experienced, client-centered Family Law attorneys are available to walk you through any child support issues related to this legal update. If you’d like to speak with one of our attorneys about child support, please contact office@thegellerlawgroup.com.

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