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Child Support Lawyer

Divorce is hard on every party involved, especially the children. At Montagna Law, our dedicated child support lawyers provide skilled legal counsel to ensure that your children receive the financial support they need throughout the divorce process and beyond.

Each family law attorney at Montagna Law has an extensive understanding of the complex provisions of Virginia child support guidelines and we will work with you to find solutions that best meet your child’s needs. When you partner with us for legal guidance, you can rest assured that you will receive the best, personalized solutions for financial assistance to satisfy your child’s best interests.

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Table of Contents:

What Is Child Support?

Child support is the monetary obligation that a noncustodial parent pays to the custodial parent. In Virginia, both parents are financially responsible for the child but the law presumes that the parent with whom the child is living provides for many of the child’s financial needs, therefore, the noncustodial parent alone is responsible for child support.

Process for Establishing Child Support in Virginia

As a parent or guardian, you may apply for child support under any of the following circumstances:

  • You are the legal parent or guardian of the child with sole custody over them.
  • You are the legal parent or guardian of the child with joint custody over them.
  • You have a “legitimate interest” in the child, a relative or grandparent for example.
  • Your child is over 18, but you had a child support order established prior to the child turning 18 and are owed overdue support payments.

There are two general paths you can follow in order to receive child support outside of going to court, both of which go through Virginia’s social services department. 

On the first path, Virginia’s social services department can issue a child support order without the intervention of the court. In this situation, you simply have to submit an application through their Division for Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). 

Alternatively, the DCSE may automatically open child support cases for specified individuals, such as those who receive Temporary Assistance for Need Families benefits. In this situation, a caseworker will likely contact you with details about the support payments.

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Considerations When Determining Child Support

The determination of child support varies for every family and can even vary for each child within a family. Courts are looking to set child support in an amount that is sufficient to provide for a child’s necessary expenses, which includes food, shelter, clothing, education, and health care (more on that later). 

Essentially, your child support attorney will file a petition to receive child support on your behalf. The court will then determine if your situation poses the need for an award of child support. Child support will be set following the Code of Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines based upon the parent’s income, time with the child, and other financial matters. 

The factors that the court may consider include:

  • Support paid for other children or past spouses
  • Whether a parent is voluntarily or involuntarily employed
  • Cost of childcare needed in order for the custodial parent to be able to work or attend school
  • Custody, including the cost of visitation travel
  • Marital debts that were for the benefit of the child
  • Life insurance, educational cost, or other payments to be made for the child’s benefit
  • Any special needs of the child
  • Independent resources of the child
  • Capital gains made from the sale of the marital home
  • Costs to maintain the standard of living of the child during the marriage
  • The parents’ learning abilities, financial resources, debts, and special needs
  • The tax consequences to both parties
  • The distribution of income-earning marital property

The amount of child support calculated using the Child Support Guidelines is presumptively correct thus, if the court wishes to set a different amount based upon the previously mentioned considerations, it must give a justification in writing stating the reasons for the deviation. When setting the child support amount, the court will always do what is in the best interest of the child.

How Is Child Support Set in Virginia?

Child support will be set according to Virginia Child Support Guidelines which are used to determine the monthly payments based upon the number of children in the family and the parents’ income. these guidelines take into consideration the following factors:

  • The income/earning capacity of each parent
  • The existing or proposed custody agreement
  • The number of minor children involved
  • The cost of daycare and insurance each parent pays for the children

Can You Modify Child Support in Virginia?

Under Virginia state law, a child support order can be modified upon the request of either of the parents. The parent who requests the order to be modified, however, must show that circumstances have changed to a considerable extent since the original order was issued.  under the Virginia Code, a child support order can be modified under the following circumstances:

  • The parent who pays child support has lost their job
  • The income of the parent who pays child support has decreased substantially – at least 25% or more –  due to a demotion or job change
  • Either parent gets a substantial raise or lands a high-paying job
  • Either of the parents inherits a substantial amount of money
  • The child has developed a disability or is suffering from health problems and requires additional care as a result
  • There is a substantial increase – at least 25% or more – in the cost of childcare
  • The child support order issued by the court does not have any provisions for the cost associated with the child’s health and dental insurance
  • There is a substantial increase – at least 25% or more –  in the child’s health or dental insurance premiums
  • The child has become emancipated,  reach the age of 18, or graduated from high school and no longer needs the financial assistance of his or her parents.

Under any of the aforementioned circumstances, the court may decide to modify the order of Child Support as long as the modifications do not have an inverse impact on the level of care provided to the child by the parents.

What Can Child Support Be Used For?

Child support payments must be used to support the welfare, education, safety, and material well-being of the child. Child support payments will go to the custodial parent to allow them to financially support the child.

Are You Required to Pay Child Support If You Have 50-50 Custody?

Yes, even if you have 50/50 custody ruling, these child support obligation is not eliminated. Unless both parties have chosen to waive the support, it will still be owed.

What Happens If My Spouse Stops Paying Child Support?

If your ex stops paying child support, you should speak with your family law attorney. They will, in turn, inform the court and initiate an investigation into that spouse’s delinquency. Rest assured that with the hard-hitting attorneys at Montagna Law on your side, he or she will not get away with neglecting their child support payments.

Termination of Child Support

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Under Virginia law, the child support obligation ends when the child reaches the age of 18. However, a support order must also provide that support will continue for a child over the age of 18 who is:

  • A full-time high school student
  • Not self-supporting, and
  • Living in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support

Under the above circumstances, support will continue to be provided until the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. 

The court may also order that support be paid for any child over the age of 18 that meets the following requirements:

  • The child is severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled and the disability existed prior to the child turning 18
  • The child is unable to live independently and support him or herself, and
  • The child resides in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support.

Helping People Achieve Support Orders in Hampton Roads

Every child deserves to be cared for and financially supported. Regardless of your income, you may be entitled to child support payments from the other parent.

At Montagna Law, our knowledgeable child support attorneys will help you understand your rights and responsibilities, help you find the option for your child’s best interests, and help you obtain a fair child support order. Whether you are concerned about your right to receive or your obligation to pay child support, Montagna Law has got your covered.

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