When parents separate, the welfare of their children is often a primary concern. Custody and support issues can be contentious, and Virginia has careful guidelines for calculating child support payments that a noncustodial parent must pay. However, it is not uncommon for circumstances to change, making it difficult for a supporting parent to meet his or her obligations.
Some reports estimate that only about 60% of noncustodial parents make child support payments in compliance with their court orders. This is not always because the supporting parents are unwilling to provide for their children. Family courts recognize the difference between parents who refuse to pay child support and those who are unable to pay.
Seeking child support modifications
Fortunately, family law courts are often willing to review and perhaps modify the child support orders of a parent whose circumstances have drastically changed. However, to avoid serious legal consequences, it is important for a supporting parent to seek court ordered child support modifications as soon as possible if any of the following occur:
- The loss of a job
- A medical emergency or prolonged illness
- Other financial setbacks
Often, a custodial parent does not receive support payments the court has ordered, and the supporting parent makes no move to obtain a modification. In this case, the custodial parent can seek the help of the courts to obtain those funds. Additionally, if the noncustodial parent’s circumstances change for the better or the child’s needs change, the custodial parent may request an increase in support payments.