Episode 12: Changing Child Support
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Intro 0:01 Welcome to What to do when….A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss What to do When, and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations. Scott Cardani 0:28 Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode. This is Jackie and Scott, Jackie, what’s on the docket for today? Jackie Critzer 0:34 Well, today we’re going to wrap up child support and changing child support once it’s already been established. So you may have a child support order. That’s last year, two years ago, five years ago, how do you change it? What are the steps what’s needed in order to effectuate a change in child support? Scott Cardani 0:51 And we affectionately call that it’s the term is a motion to amend child support. So what do you need for a motion to amend child support? Jackie Critzer 1:01 Well, what you’re really asking the court to do is change in order that it already entered. And so in Virginia, what you’re required to show first is that there’s been a material change in circumstances since the last order was entered. Scott Cardani 1:15 Yeah, and material change folks is pretty specific. And child support is easier than other things, there’s a lot of material changes in the family law side. But what this is talking about is something that really changes the dynamic, and the few that really pop in my mind, or somebody gets a better job, a job or something where that income is affected a lot. Like usually, quite frankly, $100 isn’t going to change it that much. But when you’re talking a pretty big change somebody you know, maybe goes to salary to making $100,000 a year from you know, 70 even even Yeah, so you know, that is a big thing. income can be a big thing, what are some other things. Jackie Critzer 1:55 Another child or additional children by one or both, well by the payor, spouse or by the payor. So in other words, if dad’s paying support, and he’s maybe remarried, maybe not and had another child, then that extra child needs to be calculated into the child support. Scott Cardani 2:14 And even, quite frankly, if the insurance really materially changes, for instance, maybe everybody was on Medicare before and now dad’s covering insurance, you know, those things can be a big deal, because if dad’s now paying $300 a month for the children, that’s a pretty material change. Jackie Critzer 2:29 It doesn’t make change. Sometimes you see two with the original order, the children or child was in childcare, work related childcare. And now they’re not their school age, they’re out of school programs, or they’ve aged out of childcare, that we all know it can be a really significant change in the calculations. Scott Cardani 2:47 And also the other one is when the child turns 18, and has graduated from high school, then that’s time to change the spouse child support order. And a lot of times where that happens is, that’s usually more common with multiple kids, because the order is considered one order for all the kids. So when you have three kids and you move to two, now it’s a pretty big change, usually, because that calculation completely changes. So if you lose a kid because he graduates or something like that, then that would be a reason to change. Jackie Critzer 3:17 One other reason that comes to mind is if there’s been a custody change, or a material change and how many overnights the parents have each child, or maybe there were several children, maybe there were two children under the order. And now one lives with the other parent and one lives with the first parent. I mean, there’s lots of reasons to change. But those are material. Scott, can you think of of something that would be a big change, but wouldn’t meet the criteria to get a change in a Child Support Order? Scott Cardani 3:49 Honestly, that’s a little more difficult here, I can think of a lot of them for custody. But for these I think really, a big change could be a switching of a job, but the income really doesn’t change. A lot of people assume just because he got a new job that the income is really going to be different in a lot of times, it’s not that much different. Jackie Critzer 4:04 But what if the person changed jobs from a higher paying job to a much lower paying job and says, Oh, well, I have a new job and I’m making less money. Is that good enough reason for motion to amend? Scott Cardani 4:16 No, normally, they’re gonna get beat on that. Because if your own choice lessens your income, then most of the time that’s not going to be considered. Jackie Critzer 4:25 Alright, well, how about this? What if the person who was paying got fired? Scott Cardani 4:29 Yeah – that can be a tricky wicket did they get? I mean, most of the time, that firing is going to be enough to change the child support, quite frankly. But if it’s something you did to get fired, and you, you know, you can prove that you purposely got fired and not so much. Jackie Critzer 4:43 I find that when someone is fired for cause, that that’s not enough to file a motion to or to be successful in a motion to amend you can file it really anytime but to be successful, and also going to jail, going to jail or sometimes, in fact, I’ve never seen In a judge changed child support just because someone has gone to jail. Because it’s the crime that they did that, put them in jail. So their own action, reduced their income. Scott Cardani 5:12 It’s very true. And that’s the whole point your actions can’t reduce the child support. And then you go to the court and say, Well, I did all these things. And now my incomes lower, so you need to change it, you’re probably going to fail on that. One of the things quick thing I want to say on this is if you’re thinking you’re in a place to modify child support, and do this motion to amend support, you really need to look at it before you file that motion. Because sometimes the very change that you think is going to help you may in fact, hurt you. Jackie Critzer 5:40 Well, and so how would somebody really know what that number what the child sport might change to? What should they do. Scott Cardani 5:47 They really should contact a lawyer have some help in this or get somebody who knows what they’re doing. Because all those factors we talked about in the prior podcast, come into this motion again. So once the door is open, and what that change of circumstance does is open the door for the courts to go, Okay, now I can look at it. So then you’re starting at the beginning again, and you’re putting in the income and the deductions and all the things that are coming out of it. So that has to be looked at. But I’ve seen it before where one of the party’s income increased a certain amount. And I thought for sure it was a good thing to file, it was a good motion, and it actually increased because the increase was actually so great. It increased my client side because remember that total income is what they look at. And all of a sudden, my client if she would have filed would have paid a little bit more, and we’re like, maybe we won’t file, you know, so and the other thing I want to say about this, it’s really important, folks, is a lot of times parents get along really well. And, and Jackie, and I were like you know, Johnny just turned 18 and graduated, okay? And we’re paying $600 Why don’t we just and there’s three of them. So really, we’re paying $200 per child, why don’t we just pay $400. Now, is that a problem? Jackie Critzer 6:51 It’s a problem unless the order says that you can do it when they don’t usually say that. Scott Cardani 6:57 It is a problem. I can’t tell you I’ve had two clients. And they’re really, really the epitome of bad situations come into my office and one guy had done that through all his children. And then for whatever reason, the wife got a burr in her that decided to take him to court. And he owed back support all the way to that when he started paying less, even though they had text messages and written documents between the two of them. They never changed the order. The judge didn’t change the order. And the judge looked at him and said, he actually looked at lady and said what you’re doing is heinous. I really think he was upset about it, because maybe my hands are tied. So he had to stick with the original order amount because it wasn’t changed. So this guy ended up owing $60,000 to his spouse. So well, don’t do that. Jackie Critzer 7:44 Well, the three three main takeaways when you want to change your child support obligation is first you have to understand what is and what isn’t a material change in circumstances that will effectuate a change in your support obligation. And remember that it can’t be your own fault. And lastly, that it’s always wise to meet with an attorney to run the numbers before you file to make sure that you can accomplish the desired result. Thank you. Outro 8:15 We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of what to do when for more episodes, be sure sure to subscribe to our podcast and we encourage you to check our archives to listen to previous topics Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Critzer Cardani. We look forward to helping you in this venture and Good Luck!