Child support is one of the most contentious parts of any divorce. Understanding your rights regarding child support is very important so you know how to protect your rights and those of your children.
Child support questions can arise as part of a divorce case, paternity case, or between unmarried parents who do not live together. Child support might seem like a straightforward matter, but many child support matters can be contentious between parents.
While many factors can complicate the issue of child support, the best team of child support attorneys at Curran Moher Weis strives to ensure that the best interests of children are met during and after a divorce.
If you need assistance with any type of child support case, reach out directly for a consultation today. We work to ensure that parents receive fair and reasonable child support orders.
The Commonwealth of Virginia requires that both parents contribute financial support to provide necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter for their children. In Virginia, this mandate usually terminates when the child is emancipated (e.g. turns eighteen and graduates high school or turns nineteen), but it may extend beyond that point if the child is physically or mentally disabled and as a result is unable to support him or herself.
Often the primary concern for families during a divorce is maintaining a stable and suitable environment for children in the family. The law also aims to protect children through specific child support requirements. These requirements help to ensure that parents have the financial resources to provide for a child’s basic needs.
Child support is determined using the Virginia child support guidelines set forth in code section 20-108.2. It’s typically based on a set formula called the child support guidelines. The court inputs several items into the formula: both parents’ incomes, health care costs for the child or children only, and work-related childcare costs. Also, if the non-custodial parent cares for the children for over 90 days per year, the guidelines are adjusted and the child support is decreased.
Judges may deviate from the guidelines when necessary to best meet the needs of each child. For example, increased support may be required when a child has higher-than-average medical expenses. Another instance may occur when a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed and support is calculated based on what the parent is capable of earning. The guidance of our experienced legal counsel at Curran Moher Weis will protect your interests in the area of child support.
Basic child support can be adjusted up or down based on the following:
If the parents agree on a child support amount that is different from the amount calculated by the formula, the court may approve the agreement. However, the court is not required to approve it.
If the parents cannot agree on a child support amount, the court will decide the amount based on the children’s best interests.
The child support obligation may be further adjusted if the parents have a shared custody arrangement.
The child support obligation is payable to the parent with primary custody of the children, and it can be deducted from federal income taxes by the parent paying child support.
You must ensure that child support calculations are accurate, so you get a fair result. The first step is to properly identify all sources of income for each parent. Sources of income can include the following:
Excluded financial resources include child support for another child, public assistance, and Supplemental Security Income.
Our attorneys make sure that the calculations do not factor in any excluded sources of income for you. We also investigate to identify all sources of income for the other parent – some of which you might not know existed. Another parent might conceal that they received bonuses or other sources of income. If needed, we can use subpoenas and other legal tools to obtain disclosures of income and related evidence.
Some parents will go to great lengths to avoid child support orders. Some people might voluntarily become or remain underemployed or unemployed to reduce their income for child support calculations. Fortunately, if your child’s other parent is attempting to avoid paying support, we can assist you.
The law does not permit parents to avoid paying child support because they are voluntarily earning less than they should. The court can impute income to that parent for calculation purposes. We can oversee the assessment of what the parent should be earning based on their skills, education, experience, and other factors. Our legal team can then recommend to the court that it should impute a certain income level for the other parent to order child support.
While each parent must provide their fair share of support, another factor that often affects child support is the parents’ custody arrangement. You will use different formulas depending on whether you share custody or one parent has sole custody. We ensure that the proper formula is applied based on your specific custody arrangement.
Many parents assume that if they share custody 50/50, neither parent will pay support, but this is generally not the case. If one parent earns more income, they can still be ordered to provide support to the other parent who earns less.
Either parent can request a family court to deviate from the standard child support calculations. To successfully do so, you must rebut the presumption that the standard calculation should apply and show that the standard calculation would result in an unfair result for either parent or the child. One example is when one parent needs to have an imputed income, as explained above.
Some factors that might lead to challenges of the standard statutory calculations include:
For example, some children enjoy a very high standard of living while their parents are married. If the child support guidelines result in a support amount that would significantly lower the standard of living with one parent, the court might order additional support to maintain the status quo for the child at both parents’ homes.
We can identify whether you have a situation that warrants deviating from the standard guidelines. We can also challenge another parent’s request for an unfair and unjustified deviation.
You always want a skilled child support attorney to negotiate your child support orders. Often, parents can agree to an amount based on their attorneys’ calculations and negotiations. This can save time and money in a divorce or custody case. If your child support matter goes before the court, we can represent your interests to the family judge.
Child support will heavily affect your finances until your child reaches a certain age or is emancipated. Do not risk your financial future – seek help from our skilled child support lawyers as soon as possible.
Child support orders are not set in stone. Child support in Virginia is typically for a period of 18 years or until the child reaches the age of 18, graduates from high school, or marries. However, the court may modify the child support order if there is a change in circumstances, such as a change in either parent’s income or a change in the custody arrangement.
In Virginia, a change in child support can be initiated by either parent, the court, or the Department of Social Services. The person or entity seeking to change child support needs to demonstrate that a “material change in circumstances” has occurred since child support was last calculated and that such a change justifies a change in support.
Some examples of legal reasons to modify child support include:
Change in income. If either parent’s income changes significantly, the child support order may need to be adjusted. For example, if the paying parent gets a new job with a higher salary, the amount of child support they owe may increase. Conversely, if the paying parent loses their job or experiences a significant decrease in income, the amount of child support they owe may decrease.
Change in needs. The needs of children can change over time. For example, a child who is in school may need more money for school supplies and activities. A child who is sick or disabled may need more money for medical expenses. If the needs of your child change, you can modify your child support order to reflect those changes.
Change in custody arrangements. If the custody arrangement of your child changes, the child support order may need to be adjusted. For example, if you switch from joint custody to sole custody, the paying parent may have to pay more child support. Conversely, if you switch from sole custody to joint custody, the paying parent may pay less.
Death of one of the parents. When a parent dies, the child support order may need to be canceled for obvious reasons. However, if the deceased parent had a life insurance policy, the proceeds from the policy may be used to pay child support.
Remarriage of one of the parents. If one of the parents remarries, the child support order may be adjusted. For example, if the paying parent remarries and their new spouse has a high income, the amount of child support may increase. Conversely, if the paying parent remarries and their new spouse has a low income, the amount of child support they owe may be reduced.
Emancipation of the child. If your child reaches the age of majority and is no longer financially dependent on you, they may be emancipated. Emancipation means your child is no longer considered a minor or entitled to child support.
If you are considering modifying your child support order, you should contact an experienced, compassionate attorney to discuss your options, one who can help you understand the law and represent you in court.
Let our best Fairfax child support lawyer from Curran Moher Weis work with you to assure a fair and equitable child support solution for you and your children. Serving families nearby and in Northern Virginia. Call us today at (571) 328-5020 or request a consultation.