Child support written on blocksThis is the next post in the series on modifying child support in Virginia. The last article discussed why parents should request a support modification if their income has gone down. It is important to request such a modification immediately as one is required to follow the current child support order until it is changed. This means that a parent may find themselves obligated to pay an amount which they cannot afford. By retaining an attorney sooner, rather than later, a parent can make sure that the court’s order is set at an amount proportionate to their income. In this post we will discuss how “underemployment” can result in grounds to modify the monthly payment. If you require assistance then contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.

A Virginia parent may be underemployed if they are choosing to earn less than what they are capable

If a Virginia parent is choosing to earn an amount less than what they are capable, the court may find that they are “underemployed” for the the purposes of calculating child support. The law views one’s obligation to support their children as a priority. If a parent is choosing not to work or to work little, then the judge may order them to pay support as if they were earning an amount commensurate with their potential. This is best explained through an example. Say that a father worked full-time and asked his employer to reduce his hours. Now say that the dad is making no effort to either find a better job or to make up for the income which he has chosen to lose. In this instance, the judge would have discretion to require that the dad pay support as if he were still earning the income he made when he were full-time.

It is important to understand that a parent will not be considered underemployed simply because they are earning less than what they are capable. If a parent is laid-off, or suffers from an involuntary reduction in hours, then it may not be held against them if the situation is only expected to be temporary. Likewise, if a parent is permanently laid-off but is making a good faith effort to find new employment, then the judge is likely to not hold it against them, however, they would still be obligated to pay child support, even if the amount is reduced. Once regular employment is  regained, you may expect the child support obligaton to be adjusted accordingly. Typically, parents will only be considered underemployed if they choose to earn a lower income.

A Virginia parent may request a child support modification if it can be shown that the other parent is underemployed

If you believe the other parent is underemployed then you may have grounds to request a child support modification. If their child support payment is based on their current income, but you can prove that they are choosing to work part-time, or for a wage lower than what they should be earning, the court may order an increase in support. Whether or not the judge will entertain such a request will depend on the facts of the case. It is important to discuss your situation with an attorney to fully understand your options.

If you wish to file for an adjustment in your monthly child support obligation, contact our office today to speak with a child support lawyer.