Child Support

Every child should receive support from both parents but the devil is in the details in many cases. If you are a custodial parent of a child in the Newport News area and you don’t live with the other parent, your child should be receiving child support. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single or divorced, whether the other parent lives in Virginia or not. If your child is younger than 19, he or she should be getting support.

How does a child get support?

Often parents who don’t live together will agree how much support will be paid and when. If this informal arrangement breaks down it’s usually the custodial parent (the one living with the child) who will seek payments to help care for him or her. Under Virginia law it’s the child, not the custodial parent, who has the legal right to support but the custodial parent receives it and spends it for the child’s benefit. The obligation to pay support normally stops at age 19 but it can continue if the child is still in high school or has a disability that requires extra support.

There are different ways a parent can receive child support. The most common are,

  • Both parents agree on child support payments and ask a judge to approve a support order in a civil case (which may be part of a divorce).
  • One parent files an application for child support and submits it to the state’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).

DCSE can help a parent,

  • Locate the non-custodial parent,
  • Establish paternity for children born outside of marriage,
  • Establish support obligations,
  • Collect and distribute support, and,
  • Enforce support obligations through its Enforcement Division.

How much child support should be paid?

Child support is based on the child’s reasonable needs and the reasonable ability of the noncustodial parent to pay. The court decides the amount based on support guidelines created by Virginia law. The judge decides the amount due on a number of factors, the most important being each parent’s income, daycare costs, medical insurance premiums, Social Security benefits the child may receive and the living arrangements of the child. Generally the total amount of child support will be from 10% to 25% of both parents’ combined gross monthly income.

There’s a legal presumption child support guidelines are correct but a parent can challenge them in their particular case. A court can rule a child support award should be less than the guidelines, but for the award to be higher that can only be based on a voluntary agreement between the parents (which may be appropriate if the child suffers from a disability or is continuing his or her education after high school). A judge may consider a number of issues when deciding if the payments should be reduced but they’re generally reluctant to do so.

After the a child support order is in place a parent can ask the judge to change it under limited circumstances, including,

  • A parent has a 25% change in his or her gross income (usually due a job loss),
  • A child needs to be added to or taken off of the order (normally due to the child’s age),
  • Day care expenses change by 25%,
  • There are outstanding medical or dental expenses, or,
  • A change in health insurance costs.

How do I get help with a Newport News child custody matter?

If you have any questions about child support or need legal representation in a child support matter, we can help, whether you want to file for a child support award, believe you’re being wrongly asked for child support or want to change an existing child support order. Call us today at 757-214-1371.