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Every parent has a legal obligation to support his or her child. If you care for a child he or she should be getting some type of help from the other parent. Whether you’re getting a divorce or you never married and you want to receive child support, ACS Law can help. We also represent those who pay child support who believe their child support order needs to be modified.
Often unmarried couples work out an informal agreement on who should pay what to support the child. If that arrangement falls apart a formal child support agreement should replace it. Child support orders are also part of a divorce when married parents end their relationship.
Child support is a parent’s court ordered payment to help the custodial parent with the costs of raising the child. Child support obligations in Virginia normally continue until the child is 19 years old, but these payments could continue if the child is still in high school, or has physical or mental conditions that require extra support.
A parent can seek child support on behalf of their child a number of ways. Both
parents can come to an agreement and ask a judge to approve a support order as part of a divorce or other family law proceedings. Most cases begin when a parent completes an application for child support and submits it to a local branch of Virginia’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).
The DCSE can help a parent find the non-custodial parent if his or her whereabouts are unknown. The agency can establish paternity for a child born outside of marriage, establish support obligations, collect and distribute support and enforce support obligations through its Enforcement Division.
The amount of support is based on the reasonable needs of the child and the reasonable ability of the noncustodial parent to pay. A court determines child support amounts using a set of support guidelines created by the Virginia legislature.
The most important issues in the guidelines are the parents’ incomes, daycare expenses, the cost of medical insurance premiums, any social security benefits the child may receive and the child’s living arrangements. A judge is supposed to review the support order every three years.
Variations from the guidelines can be requested but it can be difficult to get a judge to agree. Once a support order is in place either parent can ask it be modified if there are substantial changes in the family’s situation. Situations where it may be appropriate to ask for a change include,
- A child needs to be added to the order
- A child is no longer eligible to receive support because the other parent has
physical custody or the child is emancipated
- Health care coverage costs increased or decreased by at least 25%
- The custodial parent’s work related child care expenses increased or decreased
by at least 25%
- Either parent’s income increased or decreased by at least 25%
If you want to change a child support order, like all other family law issues, the
process can be faster, easier and less expensive when the two parents work out an agreement. You should exchange financial information to get a better idea about how changes in the ability to pay child support or increases in child care expenses impact the child and the parents. In most cases, a new support amount will follow the guidelines so if a modification is requested an agreement between the parents would be helpful.
If you have questions about child support or need legal representation in a child support matter and live in the Virginia Beach area, call Abrons, Chiusano & Sceviour at (757) 644-6789 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation today.