Child support is a financial obligation that a parent may incur if they divorce or separate from their co-parent. In Virginia, parents can be obligated to provide child support for their children until the kids reach the age of 19, or even longer, if the child has special needs. As such, child support can be a long-term and financially significant obligation if a parent becomes required to provide it when their child is young.
Though many parents know that child support exists, few understand the details of this important and often confusing responsibility. This post will introduce its readers to 5 important facts about child support in Virginia. Although this post is informational in nature, readers are reminded that no legal advice is provided herein. Family law attorneys are their best resources for getting case-specific guidance on their individual child support matters.
Fact #1: Both parents must pay child support
Child support is an obligation that attaches to both of a child’s parents. While it may be believed that it is only something the more financially wealthy parent provides, child support is a requirement of both of a child’s parents. The state provides guidelines which evaluate the incomes of the parents to determine what breakdown or balance each should pay toward the financial support of their shared kids.
Fact #2: Child support can be used for a range of expenses
One misconception about child support that readers may have is that child support can only be used for costs like clothing and educational supplies for the child. Child support actually has broad applicability to many child-rearing related costs, including but not limited to healthcare costs, childcare costs, and even housing.
Fact #3: Child support can be modified
Any parent knows that over time, a child’s needs can vary greatly. While young children often need direct supervision and specific supplies like diapers, older children may require less supervision but may incur more school and extracurricular costs. As a child’s needs change or a parent’s ability to pay child support is altered, a modification to a child support order may be possible. Individuals who believe that their support orders should be changed can speak with their trusted family law attorneys for guidance.
Fact #4: Child support can be created through an agreement between the parents
While many child support orders are created by the courts after weighing the state’s guidelines and factors related to the individual children, others are created through agreements made by kids’ parents. When two parents can work out the terms of a child support agreement on their own, they can present it to the court to review and adopt as its own order. It is important that parents who take this path understand the terms of their agreements before they execute them.
Fact #5: Child support is an enforceable obligation
Once a court enters an order for child support, the child’s parents are obligated to maintain compliance with its terms. When a parent stops paying support or becomes delinquent with their payments, the other parent may be able to seek enforcement of the order for the benefit of their shared child. When enforcement becomes necessary, parents can seek the counsel of their family law attorneys.
There is a lot that parents should know about child support, and this post is only an introduction. When child support becomes a legal matter in a Virginia resident’s life, they can seek the guidance of attorneys who support and represent parents in child support cases.