Child Support

WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT? Child support is the legal obligation of the parents to financially support their children. Child support payments are made from the parent who does not have custody to the custodial parent. These support payments are to be used to pay expenses such as food, clothing, housing and education.

HOW IS THE CHILD SUPPORT AMOUNT DETERMINED? The State of Virginia uses child support guidelines that are set forth in §20-108.2 of the Virginia Code. These guidelines establish an amount that the Court presumes is the reasonable amount of support. However, the Court has the authority to deviate from the child support guidelines. The calculation of child support can be tricky and it is recommended that you contact an experienced attorney who is familiar with the applicable law.

CAN CHILD SUPPORT BE MODIFIED? Yes. Child support can be modified when there is a material change in circumstances. For example, modification may be warranted if the parent paying support lost his/her job or suffered a significant cut in pay. The parent requesting the reduction in child support bears the burden of showing the material change in circumstances.

WHEN DOES CHILD SUPPORT CEASE? Virginia Code Section §20-124.2 states that the court may order that support be paid for any child of the parties. The court shall order that support will continue to be paid for any child over the age of eighteen who is a full-time high school student, not self-supporting , and living in the home of the party seeking or receiving child support, until such child reaches the age of nineteen or graduates from high school, whichever first occurs. However, the parents may agree in a stipulation agreement to extend child support payments.

AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING FOR MY CHILD’S COLLEGE? There is no legal obligation to pay for your child’s college. I do not recommend placing such a provision in your stipulation agreement. There are several reasons why this is not advisable. The cost of college and related expenses will continue to increase and your financial picture may change by the time your child enters college. This way a person can help their child with college as they feel appropriate without an unalterable court order.

I have been practicing family law for over fourteen years. I look forward to hearing from you if you should need legal assistance in this area.