Change a Judge Can Believe In
To paraphrase the old philosopher Heraclitus, change is the only constant in the universe. Everything in nature is in continuous movement, and one never sees the exact same thing twice. You can go to the same spot overlooking the Grand Canyon a thousand times, but each visit is unique, a little (or a lot) different. No matter how similar it looks, if you examine your surroundings more closely, you’ll find differences both obvious and subtle.
In family law, change is paramount in cases of child and spousal support. After the judge’s initial support decree, the parties have two choices: live with it until it expires on its own, or try to amend it. Both the Virginia and District of Columbia codes provide for modification of support orders if the party asking for it can show a material change in circumstances. That change can be as major as a new (or loss of a) job, marriage, health problems — or something as mundane as the passage of time. If you show the judge that things are different, you can get more (or be compelled to provide less) support for yourself or your children.
Support guidelines are generally mechanical in nature — you both supply income and assets/liabilities information and, for the most part, the judge chooses the number that comes up. The judge has some leeway for extenuating circumstances like those I mentioned above. When you seek a support order modification, be sure to tell your attorney everything you can think of that can or actually does affect your financial status, no matter how mundane. Because even the smallest change can be significant.
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