Modifying Child Support in Virginia
This guide provides information about the procedures for modifying child support in Virginia.
Section 20-108 of the Code of VirginiaThis Code section provides that the court may modify child support or custody as the changed circumstances of the parents and the benefit of the children may require. The court can act upon the petition of a parent, a probation officer or the Department of Social Services, setting forth the reasons for the relief sought. The court can also act on its own initiative but this is something we have never seen. Support can be retroactively modified only back to the date that notice of the pending petition requesting modification has been given to the other party.
Material Change in CircumstancesMaterial change in circumstances means one that is 1) relevant to child support and, 2) of sufficient magnitude to justify a change in support. In a modification case, the court again applies the guidelines to the new facts. In administrative review of child support by The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), support may be modified if the new determination changes support by 10% or more and at least $25.00 per month. There is no such minimum change rule in court cases but obviously, the process requires time, effort and money, so minor increases or decreases are probably not worth pursuing.
Jurisdiction to determine child supportIn Virginia, there is concurrent jurisdiction to determine or modify child custody or support in the circuit courts and in the juvenile and domestic relations district courts (JDR). The JDR courts are more informal than the circuit courts. Parents without lawyers may find it simpler to present their child support case in the JDR court. However, the JDR court is divested of jurisdiction of a pending support or custody case if a divorce case is filed in circuit court and the support or custody issue is scheduled for hearing within 21 days. A spouse can use this statute to bring the child support issue to circuit court. When the circuit court concludes a divorce case involving child support, it can order that jurisdiction for any modification of support shall be in the JDR court.
Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE)DCSE in the Virginia Department of Social Services provides services in the determination, collection and administration of child support. The office has broad authority to determine and to modify child support but cannot modify a court determination of support.