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Virginia Child Support Guidelines

Child support is a parent’s court-ordered payment to help with the costs of raising a child. In Virginia, child support obligations normally last until the child turns 19-years-old, but can continue past that age if the child is still in high school, or has certain physical or mental conditions that require extra support.

How to Request Child Support in Virginia

There are several ways a parent can receive child support in Virginia. One way is for both parents to agree and ask a judge to approve a support order in a civil case such as a divorce or other family law proceedings. However, the majority of cases start by completing an application for child support (PDF) and submitting it to a local branch of Virginia’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).

The DCSE can help a parent locate the non-custodial parent, establish paternity for children born outside of marriage, establishment of support obligations, collection and distribution of support, and enforcement of support obligations through the Enforcement Division.

Calculation of Support

Support is based upon the reasonable needs of the child and upon the reasonable ability of the parent to pay. The court determines child support amounts using a set of support guidelines created by the Virginia legislature. A judge will decide the child support formula using a somewhat complicated calculation. The most significant factors are each parent's income, daycare expenses, the cost of medical insurance, any social security benefits the child may be receiving and the living arrangements of the children. A judge will automatically review the support amount every three (3) years.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Virginia child support laws. See also Child Custody, Child Support Modifications, and Child Support Enforcement.

Code Section §20-108.2 et. seq.
Who is Responsible? Both Parents
How Support is Calculated? Virginia Child Support Guidelines

The support amount is based on the income of both parents and the average amount that intact families spend on their children.

What is Included in a Support Order? Monetary support (Food, clothing, & shelter), health insurance, basic education expenses. Also might include child care expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, visitation travel costs, and extracurricular activities.
How Long Must a Parent Pay Child Support? Until the child reaches the age of 19, or until the child graduates high school.
Local Child Support Offices

Virginia Social Services offices

Child Support Forms Forms
Can a Support Order be Changed? Yes. Either party can ask to modify the order if circumstances have changed. The term "changed circumstances” means a permanent, substantial (major), and unanticipated life change.
What if Non-Custodial Parent is Sent to Jail? DCSE has no way to collect support from an incarcerated non-custodial parent, unless the non-custodial parent is participating in a work-release program or has other attachable assets, The support continues to be owed and interest may accrue on the unpaid support.

Because Virginia child support laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced family law attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

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