As a parent, you are obligated to support your child. If you are separated from the child’s other parent, then you are no doubt familiar with child support. Child support is the payment made by the parents to cover the financial burden of raising and caring for a child. In cases of child support, the court will normally set an amount of child support required. However, the laws surrounding child support are notoriously complex in Virginia and often leave parents with unanswered questions pertaining to their obligations for child support, or what obligations the other parent may have.
The attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC provide more than 100 years of collective experience in family law. Our attorneys have successfully represented hundreds of parents in child support matters: in the pursuit of increased child support or unpaid child support; in the defense of a parent who is overburdened by his or her current child support obligations; and, as counselors explaining the complexities of the law with regard to a parent’s obligations. We are more than just attorneys – we are counselors. We are here to help you through the complexities of the legal system as well as handling the unique stress that comes with family matters. We understand how difficult this time can be and tailor our approach to help you gain the outcome you need. Please contact our offices today if you have questions about child support obligations, whether they concern what your obligations are or what you are legally entitled to.
Calculating Child Support in Virginia
The amount of child support a parent is obligated to pay or entitled to receive is primarily based upon state statute. Virginia law calculates the amount of child support based on the income of the parents. The state statute provides for a table that identifies the joint income of the parents and the amount to be paid based off from that amount. When considering income, the court will look to normal income sources including wages, income generated by investments, and pension or retirement benefits. However, any money received from Supplemental Security Income or public assistance programs is not included in income for the purposes of calculating child support.
Once the amount of child support is calculated, a second step is taken to allocate the child support burden between the parents. In determining how much each parent must pay, courts mainly consider the child custody arrangement. For arrangements of sole custody where the child spends all of his or her time with a single parent and for split custody where children are split between the two parents in a sole custody manner for each child, courts calculate the amount each parent must pay based on the proportionate share of their income to their collective income. In a situation where one parent’s income accounts for 75 percent of the combined income, than that parent would be responsible for 75 percent of the child support. Alternatively, in situations of joint custody where each parent retains custody of the child, the child support obligation is allocated based on the time the child spends with each parent. In a joint custody situation in which the child spends half of the year with each parent, then each parent is obligated to provide 50 percent of the child support. However, the courts may choose to utilize the sole or split custody calculation for joint custody arrangements – the court is not obligated to base payment obligations upon the time the child spends under the care of each parent.
Once the child support obligations have been determined by the Virginia statutory scheme, each parent may challenge the amount of the child support payment or the allocation of that child support payment. In pursuing a modification of child support, parents can introduce extenuating circumstances such as a child’s special medical needs or special education needs if applicable. However, without unique circumstances requiring an accommodating change, the court will be unlikely to alter the prescribed child support obligations.
In many situations, it is to the benefit of the parents to come to a child support arrangement on their own rather than relying on the courts to determine the amount to be paid. By negotiating a child support and custody arrangement, the parents can achieve an outcome that is ideal for both and can even address concerns that are not included in child support such as saving for college. If negotiating an arrangement is unfruitful, the parents can then resort to the court to provide the statutorily prescribed amount.
Back Child Support
Unpaid child support that should have been paid according to the court order is referred to as “back child support.” Unpaid child support can be pursued through legal means by filing a Motion for an Income Deduction Order, a Motion and Notice for Judgment of Arrears, and a Motion to Show Cause. First, an Income Deduction Order is a legal document that obligates the employer of the parent who has not paid child support to withhold the parent’s wages to pay for the child support. Second, a Motion and Notice for Judgment of Arrears is a civil judgment against the parent who owes back child support that can be enforced through wage garnishments like the Income Deduction Order, and through bank levies or property liens. Third, a Motion to Show Cause obligates the parent owing back child support to appear in court and explain why they have failed to pay the amount of child support required – failure to do so may result in criminal charges against the non-paying parent.
Child Support Attorney in Fairfax County
Navigating child support is challenging, both because of the complexity of the law and the resulting emotional strain. We understand the unique difficulties present in child support issues and have mastered strategies and techniques to help you in and out of the courtroom. If you have an issue relating to child support, please contact our office today for a free consultation.