Trusted Fairfax Child Support Lawyer: Afsana Chowdhury
Each parent is responsible for financially supporting their child’s reasonable needs. Reasonable needs include food, shelter, and clothing, and depending on the circumstances, may include additional expenses such as health care, child care, education, or extra-curricular activities. Child support can be ordered temporarily in divorce cases so funds are paid while the divorce issues are being addressed. In Virginia, support is calculated using the Virginia Child Support Guidelines.
The Guidelines take into account several factors including but not limited to: each parent’s gross income; the number of overnights a child has with each parent; support provided for other family members; and costs of health insurance, childcare, and in some circumstances education, extra-curricular activities, or special circumstances such as therapy.
A Fairfax child support lawyer from the Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, can help you fairly and accurately calculate support. We will work to ensure the other parent discloses all of their income. Our firm has experience dealing with a parent reluctant to show their true income. We also have experience advocating for our clients where the other party quit their job or turned down a promotion to avoid paying support. In those situations, income may be imputed to the parent so that they rightfully pay their share.
Additionally, if paternity is an issue, our firm will work to make sure a legitimate determination is made.
How Child Support Is Calculated in Virginia
Child support is often routine and determined by state guidelines. When it’s hard to determine real income or there are special needs, our firm knows how to determine the correct income and how to make sure the court order addresses unique situations.
When both parents are salaried: Child support based on just W-2s for salaried employees is done by a state formula depending on the number of children involved. The income of each parent, the number of children who need support, and who has physical custody are the factors put into the formula. The result is a number that represents how much money one parent will get from the other each regular period, normally each month.
Complicating issues: When one or both parents is self-employed or has independent income, then determining the exact amount of income becomes harder. Some spouses try to hide what they earn. Income from businesses often varies from week to week. Our firm will work to make sure all the income is disclosed by reviewing tax returns, banking and credit card statements, and other financial documentation, and hire experts, when necessary, to help determine their true gross income. The net result will still be a specific sum of money that one parent will pay the other on a regular basis for the children.
Special needs: If your child has special medical needs or works best in a private school, then the standard formula may not apply or will need adjustments, often called deviations. Each special needs matter is handled on a case-by-case basis. Our firm will advocate for your child’s special financial needs and work to make sure a fair support order is obtained. In addition to regular monthly payments, the order may include provisions for specific payments, such as paying for tuition or dental work, for example.
Additional Fairfax Child Support Issues
There are times when support orders need to be adjusted, for example, if a parent gets a large raise, a child’s health insurance costs increase or parenting time changes. In the best situation, the parents are cooperative and the Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, can assist with the preparation of a new child support order that will be accepted by the court. In the worst situations, the parents do not agree on a resolution and our firm must advocate on our client’s behalf for a fair child support order.
Parenting Time/Visitation Time Can Affect the Amount of Child Support
The amount of time the child spends with each parent influences the amount of child support paid. Generally speaking, under Virginia family law child support decreases as parenting time increases above 90 days. Determining exactly when the 90-day threshold is met can be challenging. The court has specific rules regarding what is a day and what is a half day. Our firm will work to make sure the right time is allocated.
Changes in Child Support Orders
The most common life changes which can alter an existing award are when one parent’s income changes substantially or a child reaches the age of majority. Changes in the child custody or visitation order may also justify a change in the child support order. A parent can request a change in the amount of child support, but that parent has the burden of showing that there is a material change in circumstances warranting a change in support. Our firm has experience modifying support orders and can help you determine if a material change in circumstances has occurred.
Failure To Obey Orders
If a parent fails to pay the amount required in a child support award, our firm will work to file the necessary papers to hold the non-paying parent in contempt and compel payment, even if it requires requesting that the non-paying parent be put in jail.
FAQs Answered by Our Fairfax Child Support Attorney
If you are located in the Fairfax, VA area and have questions about child support, set up a consultation with our firm to discuss your case. It’s always wise to gather as much information about your case as possible. We’re happy to help you. In the meantime, here are some common questions our clients often ask.
How does child support work in Virginia?
Virginia law outlines how child support works in the state. It’s quite important that you understand your rights and obligations in this process. If you’re not sure, reach out to a Fairfax child support lawyer for clarification.
The law makes it clear that both parents are obligated to provide financial support (and other forms of support) for the benefit of their child. It does not matter if the couple is married. The decision to award child support and the amount is dependent on numerous factors. Payments are based on the combined gross income of the parents. This allows the court to see what the child would have experienced if a single household existed.
How is income determined for calculating child support?
At the core of this process is determining what is considered income. Income is anything a parent earns from their work-related earnings. This could include:
- Bonuses received
- Commissions earned
- Severance pay
- Pensions paid
In addition to the above work-related earnings, income could include benefits paid from Social Security, disability claims and awards, any workers’ compensation earnings, unemployment insurance benefits, and veterans’ benefits.
In situations where one pays spousal support, that is counted towards that spouse’s income. Any type of rental income, side gigs, earnings from gambling, and virtually any other earnings are considered income.
There are some limitations to what’s included. The following is not considered a part of the parent’s income:
- Federal supplemental security income (SSI)
- Public assistance funds
- Child support for another child
Be open and thorough when providing information about your income to the judge. A mistake here could be problematic for winning custody of your child.
How does the child tax credit work with support?
The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are two key elements of tax law that could impact child support payments. The Virginia Department of Social Services outlines the rules for collecting these payments. The key to remember is that the child custody agreement and a court order will outline what is required in the splitting of these tax-related benefits. Generally speaking, the person paying child support does not deduct that amount. The person receiving those funds does not include that as income on their taxes.
When do child support payments end?
The law requires the parent to pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18. It may also end if the child is emancipated under state law. However, support may continue once a child reaches age 18 when ALL of the following are true:
- The child is still a full-time high school student;
- The child is not supporting themselves; and
- The child is living in the home of the parent receiving (or trying to receive) support
When these situations apply, the court will require child support to continue until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 19.
Similarly, child support can also continue beyond the age of 18 when :
- The child has reached the age of 18 and has a permanent mental or physical disability that’s severe and that existed prior to reaching that age;
- The child cannot support themselves; and
- The child is living in the home of the parent receiving (or trying to receive) support
What does child support cover in Virginia?
Child support is meant to help support raising the child. It can cover a wide range of that child’s needs, such as:
- Helping to pay for the cost of shelter
- Extracurricular activities
- Medical costs and insurance
It is not simple or straightforward to calculate child support. However, if you know your child needs specific financial support, such as for special therapy sessions or to cover the cost of transportation back and forth between parents, communicate that information upfront to your attorney.
Your Fairfax child support lawyer can offer more insight into what you can expect when calculating child support. If you have questions about what you can use child support funds for, reach out to our legal team for more information.
Who pays for health insurance, and how does that impact payments?
Child support may also include healthcare coverage. In most situations, child support documents outlining the coverage for the child will include information about health insurance. If health coverage is available through one parent’s employer, it is likely the court will require that parent to cover the child on their policy.
For example, if the father’s health insurance policy allows for the inclusion of the child, the child will need to be added to that policy. Then, the amount the father pays toward the child’s insurance is reduced from the percentage of his income share. In other words, the amount paid for health insurance is applied to the coverage that the parent is paying toward child support.
Here is another example. Let’s say a mother is required to add a child to her employer’s health insurance policy and pays $50 per month for that coverage. If the mother is required to pay a total of $1000 each month in child support, she would pay $950 each month instead, because the cost of health insurance is subtracted from that total.
It’s common to have questions about health insurance coverage and child support rules. Reach out to your Fairfax child support lawyer to learn more about your specific case and any concerns you have with protecting your child’s health insurance needs.
Call An Experienced Fairfax Child Support Lawyer
Once a child support order is entered, it can be very difficult to change it. This is why the Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, fights to make sure the initial support order is prepared professionally and accurately. Please call us for help to get the full support you need for your child/children. We can be reached at 703-420-4939 or Schedule a Consultation Online. You can also make an appointment.