Bristol, VA Child Support Lawyer
Child Support Lawyer Bristol, VA
Child support is intended as a means of ensuring that a child will continue to be financially supported after the dissolution of a marriage or relationship. However, financial situations vary significantly, making one-size-fits-all payments impractical. As such, each child support proceeding is different, and many factors will be considered when determining each parent’s obligations, such as (but not limited to):
- Gross income
- Needs of the parents and children
- Spousal support payments
- Child custody
- Special needs
At The Law Offices of Mark T Hurt, an experienced Bristol VA child support lawyer can have a significant impact on your case, as well as the stability of your family. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn about your child support rights and obligations. We represent parents on both sides of child support matters and in modification proceedings.
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How is Child Support Calculated in Virginia?
In Virginia, both parents are legally obligated to support a child, regardless of their circumstances. Support obligations are commonly arranged through child support orders, although parents may construct agreements with additional terms.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has strict child support guidelines that specify who must pay child support and how much must be paid. Such determinations are dependent on a series of factors, including (but not limited to):
- Total cost of living
- Relative incomes of both parents
- Number of children
- Childcare expenses
- Which parent (or parents) retains primary physical custody
Most commonly, a noncustodial parent will be required to make support payments to the parent who cares for a child most of the time (i.e., the custodial parent). By dividing payments in this manner, the law intends to distribute the financial expenses of raising a child fairly between the parties, even if one is primarily charged with caregiving.
Who is Entitled to File for Child Support in Virginia?
Parents or guardians are entitled to apply for child support if:
- A parent is the legal parent or guardian of a child and has sole custody;
- A parent is the legal parent or guardian of a child and has joint custody with the other parent;
- An individual has a “legitimate interest” in a child (e.g., a relative or grandparent); or
- A child is over 18, but a child support order was established before this time, and past due amounts are owed.
How Do I Apply for Child Support?
There are several ways to pursue child support, two of which do not require court intervention (but which must go through Virginia’s Social Services Department). First, Virginia Social Services can issue child support orders without court approval. To initiate this process, a parent or guardian must apply through the Division for Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). Alternatively, the DCSE may automatically open child support cases for certain individuals (e.g., those applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
Child support payments may also be sought through filing a Complaint for Divorce in Circuit Court or a Petition for Child Support in Domestic Relations District Court. Regardless of the method utilized to request payments, our experienced Bristol child support lawyers can be by your side through every step of the process to protect your rights.
Are Some Factors More Important When Calculating Child Support in Virginia?
All child support orders must follow Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines, which consider the following the most important factors:
- The number of children entitled to support;
- The amount of parenting time each parent has with a child; and
- Each parent’s gross income.
The minimum child support payment in Virginia is currently $68 per month; however, payments vary significantly depending on the number of children, the gross incomes of the parents, and other factors. For example, a noncustodial parent making $4,000 a month with three children must typically pay a minimum of $1,168 per month. In contrast, an individual making $10,000 a month (and supporting the same number of children) must typically pay a minimum monthly amount of $1,845.
Courts may consider other factors (such as self-employment deductions, federal supplemental income, alimony, other child support payments, etc.), so it is vital to understand that support payments can fluctuate. If you would like assistance calculating your estimated child support obligation, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Bristol child support lawyer.
How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
Child support is typically required until a child reaches the age of 18; however, parents may agree on alternative arrangements for additional support. For example, the parties may agree to continue payments while a child is pursuing a college education.
I Lost My Job. Can My Child Support Order Be Modified?
Virginia courts have the discretion to modify support orders if there is a material change in circumstances (i.e., a significant change has occurred). For example, if a parent loses his or her job and no longer has a source of income or sole custody swaps to the other parent, these situations could be considered a material change. However, small fluctuations in income do not typically justify a modification.
Additionally, Virginia courts always consider first and foremost the welfare of children. Thus if a parent loses a job, the courts will expect that parent to find a new job as soon as possible, and will not simply reduce support until the parent finds a “good” job.
If you are unsure if a material change has occurred, we welcome you to call our office to schedule a complimentary consultation with an experienced Bristol child support attorney. We can evaluate the facts of your case and provide guidance on whether a modification may be possible.
Will I Be Required to Pay for Private School Tuition?
Virginia courts can order private school costs to be covered by parents; however, whether to do so is solely within the Court’s discretion. If a child has attended a private school for his or her educational career, the chances of obtaining such an order are greater than if a child previously attended public school.
Do I Have to Pay for Braces?
A common issue that arises is whether one parent can require the other to pay or share in the cost of braces. If a dental professional recommends braces, this could support one’s case for the payments. However, there is not a specific law that mandates uninsured dental expenses. Thus, in most cases, braces must be a necessity (not a luxury or purely aesthetic) for courts to require payments.
Call Our Office to Schedule a Free Consultation with An Experienced Bristol Child Support Lawyer.
Despite having guidelines, child support cases can be challenging and vary significantly. If you would like to file for support, dispute a support request, or pursue the modification of an existing order, we welcome you to call our office to schedule a free consultation.
We have years of experience successfully obtaining favorable child support orders, and we can fight tenaciously in seeking to obtain a just outcome in your case. Call today to learn about your legal options.