Child Support in Virginia
For many people who have decided to divorce, issues that revolve around the children are the most important. A parent who was not the primary income-earner during the marriage may fear that he or she does not have the resources to take care of the children, even during the time it takes to get divorced. The costs of raising children can be immense — and your children shouldn’t have to suffer through financial hardship simply because of a divorce. The problem for many couples who are attempting to ‘go it alone’ and agree on a support amount is that they don’t truly understand all the factors at play, and all the unanticipated costs, since they’ve never had to function separately before.
Should We Agree on Child Support?
In some cases, you can agree with your spouse on an amount of child support without having to get a court to order it. In other cases, this may be disputed or it may become difficult to get the other spouse to pay what he or she promised to pay. But in both cases, you do need an experienced family law attorney working with you. Even when you will be able to agree about support, an Attorney knows the state child support guidelines and can use those as a starting point when negotiating on your behalf to come to an agreement. And if the dispute goes to court — either over the amount or over the failure to pay it — you need a powerful family attorney to advocate for you and your children.
What Factors Are Important for Support?
An Attorney will help you consider many factors in determining support obligations. It will be important to consider how much each parent earns, where the children spend most of their time (and any child custody arrangement), whether either parent has children from a previous marriage they also support, which parent covers health insurance, which parent covers daycare, the ages of the children, assets owned by a parent individually, and whether either parent received irregular income like bonuses, incentives, or other lump-sum payments. When you meet with your family law attorney, it is important to discuss all the changing circumstances that affect support: when kids are away at camp or staying with grandparents, college and other educational costs, dental care (including unexpected emergencies), any children who have or develop special needs or disabilities, and the changing financial landscape over time to account for inflation.
Many parents mistakenly believe that they can just “wing it” and handle the unexpected aspects of child support whenever they arise. This is not smart. It’s much better to think about all the variables up front, and get a child support agreement or order that accounts for the complexities and unexpected circumstances of raising children.
Modifying Child Support Orders
If you already have a child support order in place, but you are not receiving the payments, you may need a lawyer to help you successfully and strategically get the money that is due. From garnishments of paychecks and bank accounts, to asset seizures, there are ways to collect on past-due child support. And if those don’t work, your family law attorney can always ask the state to prosecute the non-paying spouse criminally, and place him in jail for a period of time. If you don’t have a child support order, but have just agreed on an amount, we can help get an order in place and enforce it. You may find that your circumstances have changed since the child support was determined. This too can allow an opportunity to adjust the child support amount to account for the changes in your family or financial situation.
We know how important your children are. And we know that child support is a critical aspect to any divorce or separation, not an afterthought. Our firm will fight for you and your children. Give us a call today for a free consultation.