When Is It Time To Request a Child Support, Custody, or Visitation Modification

Fairfax, VA Divorce And Family Law Attorney Claudia Zucker On Modifications To Court Orders

Whether or not the parents of minor children settle the questions of custody, visitation, and support in a divorce settlement, or they have never been married and submitted their parenting plans through the Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, it's very likely that the agreements that they forged may not always be appropriate for the circumstances of their lives. If a parent experiences a change in income, decides to move to a different area, suffers a lapse in health, or any number of other things that affect his or her ability to physically or financially care for a child, he or she may need to request a modification to the existing custody, visitation, or support agreements. There are rules as to when any agreement incorporated into a court order or a court order can be modified. In circumstances of modification of custody and visitation issues, there must be a showing that there has been a significant change in circumstances and that the change is in the best interest of the parties' minor child or children. In circumstances of modifications of support, there must be a significant change as well in order to modify a support order. Without proving a significant change, the court has no authority to modify anything. It is best to get the advice of an experienced family law attorney before you proceed in court on any issue involving modification.

Circumstances for Modifications of Court Orders

As a Virginia divorce lawyer who represents parents in child-related legal actions, it's been my experience that after a reasonable period of time, family court judges will consider modifications if the circumstances have changed. For instance:

  • Either parent experiences a change in income of more than a 15% difference (i.e. promotion, lost job, etc.).
  • A parent has decided to move—particularly if it somehow benefits the child and does not affect the other parents visitation rights.
  • Either parent or the child suffers a lapse in health.
  • Support may be decreased if the parent who is responsible for paying assumes the cost of the child's health insurance
  • Parents will frequently rearrange their schedules without modifying the court order, but this may cause problems down the road because only modifications signed by both parties or placed into a court order are enforceable

Contact a Qualified Virginia Family Law Attorney

If you have an existing child custody, support, or visitation order and it has been at least three years since your last modification, OR if circumstances have substantially changed, you should speak to a qualified family law attorney who handles modifications. If you are a resident of Fairfax, Arlington, Manassas, or anywhere in Northern Virginia, contact veteran divorce and family law attorney Claudia Zucker at (703) 596-1005 to schedule an appointment.

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