What Do I Need To Know About Child Support In Virginia?

by Anneshia Miller Grant on July 1, 2013

How Does The Court Determine The Amount of Child Support to Pay?

Child support can be ordered by the court in the form of a court order, or by an administrative order through the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). The amount of child support owed to a custodial parent is determined by guidelines set by the Virginia General Assembly and takes into consideration the parties’ incomes, work related childcare expenses, monthly medical insurance premiums, and other children supported by the parties who are not subject to the child support order.

A child support obligation is owed by the “non-custodial” parent (with whom the child does not reside) to the custodial parent. In some cases a child may reside with both parents equally in a shared custody arrangement, but child support may still be owed to the parent who has less income.

When Does A Child Support Obligation End?

Under Virginia child support law, child support is owed until the child turns 18 years of age, unless they have not graduated high school. In that situation, the support obligation ends when the child turns 19 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. Arrears (past due or back child support) do NOT cease to be owed when the child support obligation ends. Back child support is owed to the custodial parent until it is paid in full. In most cases, the current monthly obligation will continue until the arrears are satisfied.

What Happens To Child Support Arrears During A Bankruptcy Filing?

Child Support Arrears are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Does A Parent Who Is Incarcerated Still Owe Child Support?

Yes. A non-custodial parent is still obligated to pay support even if they is incarcerated. The statutory minimum for support in Virginia is $65 per month. Since most people in jail have no income, the minimum obligation of $65 per month would be ordered. That amount will continue to accrue, and the individual would be responsible for its payment upon release from jail.

If A Parent Is On Disability, Is There Still A Child Support Obligation?

Yes. Disability, including military disability, is calculated as gross income for purposes of child support.

What If The Non-Custodial Parent Is Unemployed?

A parent who is unemployed is still be obligated to pay support for their children. In fact, an unemployed parent may be obligated for more than the presumptive minimum of $65 per month if the Court finds they are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. A parent may not voluntarily quit or accept a low paying job to avoid child support. The Court may impute a reasonable income to the parent and calculate child support based on that imputed amount. In addition, a service member who voluntarily separates from the military may also be imputed their military income even after they have separated.

If The Father Has Another Child With Another Woman, Does That Affect The Child Support Amount?

No. Child support may be modified based on any material change in circumstance. Although, the birth of another child could be considered a change, the law states that the birth of an additional child by itself is not sufficient to reduce a support amount. The rationale is that when a father has children to support, that obligation remains if he chooses to have additional children. The children of the first relationship are not made to suffer as a result of the additional children. However, children born to a prior relationship are considered when calculating guidelines for later born children.

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