The process of child support payments in Virginia is complex. Navigating the process of child support payments in Virginia can be a daunting experience. Having a seasoned and skillful attorney by your side will help ensure that you are getting the best chance of a beneficial outcome in an already fraught situation. An experienced lawyer can guide and advise each step of the way.

Initial Meeting

At the initial child support meeting, a person should expect to be asked a lot of questions about the income situation of both parties, about any child care costs that are occurring, and also about the custodial arrangements that have been put together by the parties.

It can be very useful in a first meeting for a person to bring documentation of as many of those things as they might have access to.

Relevant Documentation

An attorney will ask a party to bring a copy of at least one tax return, the previous year’s tax return, and sometimes more than that. The attorney will want to review recent pay stubs, and will ask the person to bring documentation of what the child care costs are.

If the child is in school, they will probably ask both for the daycare cost and for documentation of any costs for summer work-related child care.

Additionally, a person will be required to bring in documentation of health insurance costs, which is not necessarily what comes out of the person’s paycheck every pay period but usually it requires some sort of documentation from that person’s human resources department to show what the cost of the health insurance would be if the children were not  on the policy.

Length of Process

In terms of figuring out the presumptive child support obligation, an attorney has access to all the information can run that calculation fairly quickly in a meeting. Usually, a lawyer can put together some sort of guideline in a matter of a few minutes.

In terms of the court’s process determining child support payments in Virginia, assuming there is no deviation in procedure or process, it can take several months between the time that the initial petition is filed and the time that its trial is conducted for purposes of child support.

Obligation to Notify Others

There is no specific legal requirement to notify employers, family, friends, investment companies, etc. of the upcoming change in financial duties.

That being said, some people who are paying support via wage withholding will notify payroll that there will be an order coming in for payment of support to be deducted from the employee’s paycheck.

When the Responsible Party Passes Away

When a party responsible for paying child support passes away then child support ends. If there is unpaid child support, meaning support that was supposed to have been paid but was not and is past due, then there are means by which the recipient of support can try and make a claim against the deceased parent’s estate.

However, because of the fact that active accruing child support stops upon a death of parent, attorneys may encourage a parent to look into life insurance and to make arrangements for each parent to have some level of life insurance in place. That way, if one of the parents dies while the child is still a minor, there can be additional resources that could be put towards child-related expenses.

Behavior to Avoid

While going through the legal process of child support payments in Virginia, a person should not quit their job. This is because the court is not going to let that person off the hook if they are without a certain level of income job. Rather, the court is going to assess whether or not that person is voluntarily without employment.

If the person is fired from the job, that is still going to be considered voluntary underemployment because the idea is being fired means the parent has done something wrong and the employer is letting them go through as a result.

Common Misconceptions

Some people think that there is a connection between custody and visitation and child support payment. If somebody is behind in their child support payment, a lawyer might ask them why, and that person might say that they are not being allowed to see the children. It is commonly misconceived that if somebody is withholding a parent’s access to the children, that such behavior excuses the payor from paying child support and that is absolutely not the case.

From the other perspective, somebody might say that the payor isn’t spending enough time with the child and should be required to pay more. That might be the case depending on the circumstances. It is common for people to misunderstand the connection between the process of child support, custody, and visitation.

How an Attorney Can Help

An attorney is going to be able to prepare a party for the information that is going to be needed to determine child support. A child support guideline – once they have the information needed to do that – can help the parties get a sense of what the support obligation is going to be.

The attorney can also assist in facilitating some sort of agreement between two people, particularly when the guideline is a simple mathematical calculation without complicating factors such as whether somebody is underemployed. Often times, child support payment can be settled long before a hearing date. If parties can agree, they can submit that agreement to the court, the court has to make the final approval of the numbers but most often the court will approve a child support agreement that was executed by both parties especially if the parties are using guideline child support numbers.