Mark Twain and The Art of Brevity

It is reasonable to assume that lawyers are paid by the word. Many take pride in their ability to describe a 2 minute event in no less than one hour. Others use grandiose verbosity in an attempt to impress others. Too few appreciate brevity.

Pithy speaking and writing is essential to effective legal advocacy. Plain, efficient language is forceful and easy to understand. An earnest point should not be obscured by superfluous verbiage. A master of this craft, Mark Twain summed it up in one of my favorite quotes from an apology for a long letter he had written:

“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

Virginia’s new child support guidelines effective July 2014


It has been ages since Virginia updated its child support guidelines. In fact, the most recent adjustment to the guideline tables occurred in 1995. The guideline table, found at Virginia Code 20-108.2, establishes the presumptive child support need relative to parents’ combined monthly gross income.

The change that is likely to have the most impact on our clients is the extension of the table’s range up to a combined monthly gross income $35,000.00. The old version stopped at $10,000.00. Under the new table, high income parents will pay or receive more in child support compared to the old guidelines.

The other significant change is the elimination of the requirement that custodial parents pay the first $250.00 in un-reimbursed medical expenses before receiving any contribution from the non-custodial parent.

Modification of child support requires proof of a material change in circumstances. Although the new law does not state that it may be relied upon as the changed circumstance, existing case law indicates that if the new law significantly affects the calculated child support amount it may be deemed a changed circumstance for purposes of obtaining a new child support order.