Either the parent receiving child support and the parent paying child support may request changes in child support orders. In order change support, the court must find that there has been some significant change in circumstances since the last child support order which now justifies a change in support. Typically, the burden will be on the parent seeking a change in support to prove to the court that a change should be made. Such circumstances might include a significant increase or decrease in one of the parent’s gross incomes, or a change in day care costs. In most cases, however, this change should not have been brought about by the voluntary act of the parent seeking the change. For instance, a payor parent cannot voluntarily quit their job as a neurosurgeon earning $500,000 per year and decide to be a fisherman earning $30,000 per year, and then expect the court to reduce child support.
In Virginia, there is no automatic review of support orders. In addition, the court will not order automatic increases or decreases at some future time. Support is based on circumstances existing or clearly foreseen at the time of the hearing. Because support is based not only on the gross incomes of both parties, but also on day care and health insurance costs, focus on only one of these factors will not predict whether child support will change – or how it will change. Evaluation and understanding of all of the components of the child support calculation is vital to a decision whether to proceed with a child support modification.