Once a marriage is dissolved by divorce in Virginia, that does not necessarily end the court’s involvement. Although the final decree and related orders may have been appropriate for the situation when they were issued, circumstances change. If your financial situation has changed, if the needs of your children have changed, or if other life circumstances have changed significantly, it is important to work with an attorney who can help modify the existing court orders.
In most situations, kids and money are the two things that necessitate post-divorce modifications. As children grow up, their needs change.
Whereas a few short years ago, you and your former spouse were trying to work out day care arrangements, now you may need to address school, extracurricular activities, and travel softball. Moreover, in this mobile society and precarious economy, and especially in this metropolitan area, divorced parents move or get reassigned or deployed.
Or suppose one of the parents remarries and brings another set of children into the mix, and the new spouse starts imposing on the co-parenting that has been established between the original divorced parents.
Child and spousal support need modification when a parent loses a job or gets a raise, or when the children want to attend hockey camp and need long-term tutoring. Or when one of the parents retires.
Any of these events can call for changes in child support, spousal support, or child custody or visitation, and orders may need to be altered to meet the best interests of the child.
If you feel you need to ask the court to modify any of these orders, you will have to convince your judge of two crucial things: 1) that there has been not just a change in circumstances since the last order was signed by the court, but an honestly significant one, and 2) that the change you identify warrants the modification you seek. So just because your ex is trying to manipulate visitation, for example, don’t charge off to court to demand sole legal custody with supervised visits at a police station. Judges have developed noses for retaliation and you can hurt yourself (and your child) if your response is disproportionate. Ask for what your circumstances call for.