The ABCs of Child Support in Northern Virginia

Child Support in Northern Virginia

Child support cases in Northern Virginia, like most other family law matters, are decided as part of a divorce case, or as an independent cause of action. A court that has jurisdiction over your divorce has jurisdiction to divide your assets and debts, make spousal support awards, rule on custody and visitation arrangements, and order child support payments. If a child support case is brought independently, then it will follow the same track as any other civil case. This means you file a petition for child support in the appropriate jurisdiction (usually where the future payor of support lives). After the petition is filed, you can expect the court to schedule a “status” hearing. A “status” hearing is usually an administrative day that lasts about ten minutes. Future hearings, including your trial date, are typically scheduled. You can expect several things to happen in between your “status” hearing and trial.

Can I Get Temporary Child Support While my Case is Pending?

Northern Virginia child support cases follow the same trial-track as any other civil action. This means you can file motions and get orders based on those motions (if they are granted by the judge). Parties commonly file motions for temporary relief in Northern Virginia divorce and family law cases; child support is no exception. These temporary hearings are also referred to as “pendente lite” hearings. At this hearing, your family law attorney can request the court to order a temporary child support award so you do not have to wait months for your trial date before child support is ordered.

What Else Will Happen Before Trial?

Northern Virginia child support cases are subject to the same procedural rules as any other case. That means, they are also subject to the same challenges. One problem that you could run into is obtaining jurisdiction over the person you want to pay you child support. Northern Virginia child support cases are subject to the requirement that the court have “personal jurisdiction” over the person you want to pay. This usually means the person you want to pay child support must live in Northern Virginia or consent to the jurisdiction of the court. This is because a court has to have jurisdiction over an individual before property or money judgments can be rendered against him or her. The concept of “personal jurisdiction” is not unique to Northern Virginia divorce and family law cases, and most states have these rules.

How is Child Support Calculated?

Calculation of child support in Northern Virginia is governed by a rigid, statutory process. The amounts you pay are literally written into the Virginia Code. Specific amounts depend on several factors, including income of both parents, and deductions for allowable expenses such as healthcare premiums for the child, child support paid to other children, and work-related childcare costs. Most states have adopted some form of guideline like the one Virginia follows for calculation of child support. The process can become more complicated if you are dealing with individuals who are self-employed. Usually, the process of determining child support in Northern Virginia is straightforward and formulaic.

What Happens at Trial?

Child support trials in Northern Virginia proceed exactly as any other trial would. Though the process of calculating your child support is fairly straightforward once you have the income and allowable expenses, getting this information admitted into evidence can be a complicated matter. Northern Virginia child support proceedings are governed by the rules of evidence and other procedural rules. If these rules are not followed carefully, proof of your income or allowable expenses will not be admitted into evidence, and will not be used by the court to calculate your child support award at the end of the trial. Your Northern Virginia family law attorney can walk you through this process.

Note that this post only deals with cases filed in court. It may be possible to obtain a support award through an administrative process with the Division of Child Support Enforcement; this is not addressed here. To determine the best way to proceed, contact a Northern Virginia divorce or family law attorney.

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