Child Support in Washington, DC

Child support cases in the District of Columbia can be handled in a variety of ways.  First, it is important to understand a little about the operations of the Superior Court in Washington, DC.  The President of the United States, with the advice and consent of Congress, appoints most of the judges at the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

This is the same process as how U.S. Supreme Court justices are selected.  The reason for this is because the District of Columbia is a federal district, and the local court is an Article I Court pursuant to the Constitution.   These judges are called associate judges and are appointed for a life term with mandatory retirement at the age of 70.

In addition to associate judges, there are magistrate judges who the court system can hire to hear certain lower-level cases.  Child support cases are one type of case that is initially handed by a magistrate judge.

Filing for Child Support in the District of Columbia

Regardless of whether you have an ongoing divorce action or not, your Washington, DC child custody attorney will file a child support case in the District of Columbia Superior Court.  The case will be placed on the docket of a magistrate judge.  Your attorney will have to serve the other parent with a summons and copy of the child support petition, so that he or she will know when and where she must appear for a hearing.

At the first hearing, the magistrate judge will typically set a temporary child support amount based upon the child support guidelines for the District of Columbia.  While the actual formula is quite complex, the legal authority for the Washington, DC child support guidelines comes from § 16–916.01 of the D.C. Code.

Washington, DC Child Support Guidelines

In a child support case in Washington, DC, the amount of child support that will be awarded to a petitioning party, if any, will be based up a variety of factors, including:

  • Whether the amount of child support will be equitable in terms of what both parents’ obligations are in physically taking care of the child.
  • The income of both parents.
  • Any reasonable expenses of both parties.
  • Any special needs of the parents.
  • Any special needs of the child.
  • Any other factors deemed reasonable by the court.

These are only some of the factors, but, as you might imagine, the magistrate judge will fashion a child support payment based upon this and many other factors.

It should be also be noted that your Washington, DC child support lawyer can work out an agreement with the other party, and that agreement can be used instead of the child support guidelines. The amount of child support may be less or more than the guideline amount, as long as the judge is satisfied the parties are aware of what the guideline amount would be, and that any order is in the best interest of the child.

Once the judge has determined an amount, he or she will enter a temporary order.  Pursuant to the One Family, One Judge rule, if there is an ongoing divorce proceeding, the child support case will be consolidated with the divorce case, and the associate judge will hear both matters.

The family law attorneys at DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC have years of experience handling domestic relations cases in jurisdictions across Northern Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland.  Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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