Abingdon, VA Child Support Lawyer
Child Support Lawyer Abingdon, VA
Child custody battles are often the most emotionally challenging and frustrating legal issues that individuals face. Any time two parents are not able to arrive at a consensus regarding fair financial support in the context of a divorce, the Virginia court system will step in to order the amount of support based on factors such as income, daycare, and health insurance expenses.
Adjusting to a new financial way of living can be challenging, but an experienced Abingdon child support lawyer can help navigate through every step of an initial child support request or support modification proceedings to ensure you and your child’s best interests are met. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
We offer affordable hourly billing rates in child support matters and accept credit card payments.
What is Child Support?
In Virginia, both parents are legally obligated to support a child, whether they are married to one another or not. As divorce rates have increased, the Commonwealth of Virginia has worked tirelessly to systematize the support process, enacting child support guidelines that make determining the appropriate amount of support more predictable.
Child support is designed to reduce the disparity between each parent’s respective household. For example, if one parent is the main breadwinner while the other primarily cares for the children, support payments may be awarded to the custodial parent to ensure that a child retains a similar quality of life while with both parents.
While there are mutual obligations, this does not always equate to equal support from each party. Instead, Virginia uses a complex formula to determine the specific amount parents are obligated to pay every month. Such formula is based on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to):
- Ability to pay
- Time with the child
If you would like to learn more about Virginia child support obligations, we welcome you to call our office to schedule a free consultation with an Abingdon VA child support lawyer. We can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and assist in formulating a child support strategy that will help ensure your child receives the care he or she deserves.
What Types of Child Custody are Awarded in Virginia?
Child support largely coincides with custody. For example, depending on which parent has primary custody or if both share custody, the custodial situation often determines who must pay child support. Because of this interrelation, it is critical to understand the types of custodial arrangements commonly awarded in Virginia, including:
- Joint Custody. Joint custody allows both parents to retain the legal right to make critical decisions regarding a child (i.e., healthcare, academic choices, religious affiliation); however, it does not impact physical custody.
- Sole Custody. Sole custody authorizes only one parent or guardian to make parenting decisions, and the noncustodial party must follow and uphold these determinations. This arrangement is commonly utilized in highly contentious disputes in which parents are unable to co-parent effectively. Typically, parents awarded sole legal custody will also retain primary physical custody of a child, and the noncustodial parent will be granted visitation (or parenting time). In this situation, a custodial parent is usually entitled to child support payments from the noncustodial parent.
- Shared Custody. Shared custody provides both parents with equal physical custody of a child. Courts often favor shared custody, as it allows children to foster meaningful relationships with both parents. If both parents have equivalent financial means, support payments may not be awarded when custody is shared.
- Visitation. When one parent is awarded sole custody, the noncustodial parent is typically entitled to meaningful visitation with a child (unless visitation could compromise the safety or well-being of a child). For example, if there is a history of sexual or physical abuse involving the child, visitation may be supervised or restricted.
How Is Child Support Determined in Virginia?
By law, all child support orders must follow Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines, which are based on the premise that children whose parents live apart should have the same level of support they would have enjoyed had the parents lived together. Because everyone’s finances are complicated, the guidelines utilize a complex formula to determine payments.
The formula considers such information as:
- Income from all sources
- Alimony/spousal support payments
- Daycare expenses
- Health insurance costs
- Basic needs of the parents and child
- How involved each parent is involved in caregiving
Under the current law, the minimum child support payment is $68 per month; however, payments vary greatly depending on the number of involved children and the gross incomes of the parents. For example, the following is a partial example of the monthly basic child support obligations:
|MONTHLY GROSS INCOME||One|
It is important to note that these are merely the basic guidelines, meaning there may be other considerations. For example, reasonable business expenses for persons with income from self-employment, a partnership, or a closely held business may be deducted. Further, gross income does not include public assistance benefits, federal supplemental security income benefits, or child support payments.
Because it can be challenging to calculate child support payments, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced Abingdon child support lawyer to seek answers to your questions. At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have decades of legal experience and can assist in providing an approximation of your support obligations.
At What Age Do Virginia Child Support Payments Stop?
Child support is typically payable until a child reaches 18 years of age; however, payments may continue for any child over the age of 18 who is:
- A full-time high school student;
- Not self-supporting; and
- Living in the home of the party seeking child support until the child reaches 19 or graduates from high school (whichever occurs first).
It is critical to note that parents can agree to pay support beyond the age of 19. For example, the parties may agree to extend child support payments until a dependent reaches 22 years of age, allowing the child to receive support while pursuing a college education.
Can A Child Support Order Be Modified in Virginia?
Yes. Virginia law allows child support orders to be modified if there is a material change in circumstances, which is largely left to a judge’s discretion. For example, if parenting time changes significantly, a parent loses their job, or a child develops special needs, an order may be modified to accommodate the new circumstances.
It is critical to keep in mind that such change must be material, meaning that small income fluctuations may not support a modification. Further, courts do not distinguish between who files a modification request or whether an increase or decrease is being requested. Therefore, opening the door to a modification could have unintended results. As experienced Abingdon, Virginia child support lawyers, we can evaluate your circumstances and advise whether filing a modification request may be prudent.
Schedule a Free Consultation with An Experienced Abingdon, VA Child Support Lawyer.
Child support actions are commonly initiated by filing a Complaint for Divorce in Circuit Court or a Petition for Child Support in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (although a request may be initiated in other ways). If you need to file a child support order, are facing one against you, or need to modify an existing order, our experienced Abingdon child support lawyers can be by your side to handle every step of the legal process.