Once again Charlie Sheen has made headlines, however this time it’s not due to “tiger blood” or unintelligible rants. Instead, Mr. Sheen is in the news related to something to which many parents, celebrity or not, can relate to—modification of child support. News articles like this one are reporting that Mr. Sheen has submitted a request to terminate his child support payments to his former wife, Brooke Mueller. He is requesting this change since his two children with Ms. Mueller are not currently living with their mother, but instead are living with Mr. Sheen’s other former wife, Denise Richards.
In Virginia, if parties are unable to agree to an amount of child support, a parent’s child support obligation will be determined according to guidelines which are established by Virginia Code Section 20-108.2. These guidelines incorporate a formula that takes into account several factors, including both parties’ incomes, the number of children, work-related child care, health insurance premiums, and any other children that either party may have. Once a court determines an amount under the guidelines, in the vast majority of cases the court will simply go with that amount in its child support order. In the support order, the court has the authority to retroactively apply the child support obligation from the date the petition for support was filed.
When a court issues a child support order, the parties must follow the terms of the order until the child reaches the age of majority or is earlier emancipated, or the court order is changed. Much like child custody and visitation orders, either party can petition the court to modify a child support order. Once a party submits a petition, they must prove to the court that there has been a material change in circumstances since the last order was entered. Typically, a significant increase or decrease in either party’s income constitutes a material change of circumstances. A change in custody, like in Mr. Sheen’s case, can also be a ground for justifying a modification of child support in Virginia.
If you have a child support order in place but there has been a material change of circumstances which might justify a modification of support, you should speak with an experienced family lawyer as soon as possible. Remember, child support can only be modified in Virginia retroactive to the date you file a petition for modification—so you can really hurt yourself by waiting. The family law attorneys of Livesay & Myers are experienced with child support issues in jurisdictions across Northern Virginia. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.