Virginia's Judicial System

A Reader Responds

I received my copy of the March 2002 edition of Resolutions, which excerpts and discusses the Shoup v. Shoup decision of our Court of Appeals regarding child support provisions of written agreements and the ability of parties to negotiate a future change in the support amount in their present agreement. As you know, on March 1st, the Virginia Supreme Court issued its ruling in Riggins v. O'Brien, in which the Court stated, "With the exception of terminating a non-unitary support award upon achieving majority, specifying future changes in the amount of child support is inappropriate because it does not allow the divorce court to determine child support based on contemporary circumstances."

The law is changing fast (weekly, it seems). Mediators should be cautioned about "self-executing" child support provisions and, until we have new legislation, mediators should not use them. We should all assume that the only way to modify child support is with a new court order, and only from the date that a motion to modify is filed. It continues to be a wild ride...

(Donne Colton is a family attorney/mediator in Alexandria, Virginia)

This page last modified: December 9, 2002