Child Support Law

Virginia Child Support Laws

A child support order is meant to minimize the negative financial impact a divorce or other split might have on a separating couple’s children. These orders require each parent to make some contribution to the financial support needed to raise their kids.

If you’re a parent going through a break-up or divorce, you will need to learn how Virginia law determines who will pay child support, how the amount of those payments is determined, and other important legal considerations.

Who Pays Monthly Child Support?

In a Virginia child support case, deciding who pays child support is determined by a complex formula. The child support calculation factors into it the income of each party, the number of children and the custody and visitation arrangements. In addition, the court may add on the costs of health care coverage, dental coverage, and child-care costs.

Generally speaking, noncustodial parents contribute basic child support. However, it could be that a custodial parent contributes to costs such as child care or health care.

How is Income Determined?

You may think it’s obvious what your income is: the money you get from your job. However, this may not tell the whole story, and a court will take many different things into account when determining how much you need to pay in child support. These factors may include:

  • Your salary
  • Any commission earned
  • Hourly wages
  • Bonuses
  • Gifts
  • Pensions
  • Severance pay
  • Dividends
  • Veterans benefits
  • Some Social Security benefits
  • Disability or workers’ compensation payments

It should be noted, however, that when you calculate your income, you do not need to include income from public assistance and social services programs, some social security benefits, any child support you receive, or income from secondary employment if certain conditions are met.

There are also some things that may be deducted from your income, including spousal support you pay and one-half of self-employment taxes you pay. Any spousal support you receive should be included in your income.

Using the Child Support Calculator

After you determine your total income, you can enter it into the calculator above, along with the number of children who will be included in the order. The calculator uses a table provided by Virginia law to give you an idea of what you will likely be responsible for.

It is critical to note, however, that the amount provided by the calculator is not set in stone. Your judge will give you the exact amount, taking into consideration certain factors specific to your circumstances.

How is Child Support Ordered in Virginia?

In Virginia, a court order will often set up the child support payments, but this is not always the case. The department of social services also has the power to do this, but the end result has the same effect as the court process.

Additionally, if you’re receiving public assistance, you may not have to submit an application on your own— the Division of Child Support Enforcement, or DCSE, will do so on your behalf in most cases.

What Virginia Law Says About Changing Child Support

Under Virginia law, you may be able to change or modify your child support amount after the court orders it. You can ask the court to modify your obligation if you have experienced a material change in circumstances that affects your ability to pay; however, quitting the secondary employment you took to help with arrears does not count as a material change for these purposes.

In cases where your support is based on shared custody, if one parent fails to exercise their custody or visitation, the court will presume that your support obligation should change. This means the parent who is not exercising visitation or custody will be required to explain to the court why this should not affect the amount of child support.

I’m Dealing with Child Support Issues: What’s Next?

If you have children and you’re facing divorce, separation, or paternity issues, you will have to figure out how your children will be financially supported. Conflicts often arise in determining custody, calculating a parent’s income, establishing a child’s paternity, and enforcing court-ordered child support.

Virginia offers several different child support services for mothers and/or fathers wishing to establish paternity, including low-cost DNA testing through the Division of Child Support Enforcement in addition to several private testing providers.

You can get started on your child support paperwork today by downloading the necessary forms from the Virginia Dept. of Social Services. The state also provides a child support guidelines worksheet to help parents reach a settlement.

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