Virginia Child Support Attorney
If you have been served with divorce papers and you and your spouse have children, you will eventually have to deal with the issue of child support. Even if you are not married to your child’s mother or father, if you are involved in a custody dispute, child support will eventually become an issue in your case.
At the Smith Law Firm, P.L.C., we represent people throughout Virginia when child support issues arise. We know the child support laws, and we work hard to make sure that you receive the proper amount to which you are entitled. If you are the parent paying child support, fulfilling your support obligation does not mean having to pay more than you can afford.
Both parents are equally responsible for child support
Virginia law makes both parents legally obligated for the support of their child. Furthermore, child support should never be confused with spousal support or alimony which is intended solely for the support of a former spouse. Child support is intended to meet a child’s needs for such essentials as:
- Medical and dental care
- Child care costs
- Extracurricular activities
The needs of the child are weighed against the ability of the parents to pay. Calculations begin by determining the combined gross monthly income of the parents. Courts then use a chart with guidelines put out by the state that gives the total amount of child support needed based on the gross income and the number of children.
For example, a couple with a combined monthly gross income of $2,400 would, according to the Virginia guidelines, be asked to pay $383 a month if they had one child. The support would increase to $593 for two children and $743 for three children.
The total support obligation is divided between the parents by applying formulas depending upon the type of custody arrangement that exists. For instance, when one parent has sole physical custody, the noncustodial parent shall pay an amount equal to the percentage that his or her gross monthly income bears to the parents’ combined gross monthly income according to the guidelines.
Depending upon the time a child spends with each parent, courts will take this into consideration in determining the amount of support for which each parent is responsible. A knowledgeable attorney who is familiar with the child support guidelines knows how to prove to a judge that deviation from the guidelines may or may not be appropriate in a particular case.
Modification of child support
Normally, a change in child support would require showing a significant or material change in circumstances since the entry of the last child support order by a court. Changes to the Virginia child support guidelines went into effect on July 1, 2014 that could affect the amount of child support parents in higher income brackets could be responsible to pay . A request for a modification based upon the effect of the changes on an existing child support order might be enough to justify a requested change to the order.
Enforcement of child support orders in Virginia
Virginia takes a parent’s child support obligation very seriously. There are a number of ways in which the child support obligation of a parent can be enforced if the parent stops paying. The Virginia Social Services Division of Child Support Enforcement is empowered to take legal action to enforce a support order.
Some of the methods available to enforce child support orders include:
- Garnishment of wages
- Suspension of a delinquent parent’s driver’s license
- Taking a nonpaying parent’s state and federal tax refunds
A nonpaying parent who attempts to avoid collections by moving out of state can still be held liable under federal child support collection laws. Under these laws, states cooperate with each other to enforce child support orders regardless of the fact that the nonpaying parent is no longer residing in the same state as the child.
Our child support attorneys can assist you in collecting support from a nonpaying parent. We can also to defend you against unfounded claims of nonpayment or to obtain a downward modification of your support obligation if you are unable to pay.