How exactly does it work?
Simply put, child support is a series of court ordered payments for a child that you have a legal obligation to support. Typically child support payments are made by a noncustodial parent to a custodial parent. Child support is calculated by a formula (really a table) set forth in Virginia Code Section 20-108.1.
Child support calculations take into account the gross monthly income of each parent. The formula then provides a ‘baseline’ child support number. Depending on the circumstances of a particular case, additional coverage for work related daycare and health insurance coverage for the child or children can be added to that baseline number. In certain limited circumstances, courts can “deviate” from the guideline formula, but this may only be done in certain specific circumstances.
Most child support orders also contain provisions that detail how “unreimbursed medical expenses” (i.e. healthcare expenses not covered by insurance) are to be paid.
Child support typically accrues from the date that a petition or request for child support is formally filed with the court. Changes in child support can be requested in certain circumstances (i.e. a ‘material change in circumstances’) and the modification is typically measured from the date that notice of the request for change is given to the other party.
Failure to pay court ordered child support can result in proceedings against the payor for contempt of court. Unpaid child support accumulates as an “arrearage.” Interest at the judgment rate of 6% per annum accrues on the arrearage until paid.
Child support can be a very technical and unforgiving area of the law. If you are dealing with a child support matter, whether you are the recipient or payor, it is nearly always worth talking to an attorney to make sure that your rights are protected.