Virginia Child Support Laws and Guidelines

The laws governing child support in Virginia are different from that of other states. VA child support law sets how much the child maintenance should be, and the duration of such payments, plus it seeks to guide parents in exceptional cases such as deviation, support for disabled children, and retroactive support.

As you may already know, child support (or child maintenance) is a continuous monetary payment made by a spouse to another spouse, guardian, caregiver,  or the state for the upkeep of children after a divorce or separation.

The person who is required to pay child support is referred to as the “obligor,” whereas the person who is eligible to receive child maintenance is referred to as the “obligee.”

What are VA Child Support Laws?

Child support laws in Virginia are governed by the Virginia Code, Title 20, Chapter 6, Article 2. These laws outline the guidelines and procedures for determining child support payments in the state.

In Virginia, the obligee is typically always the person who has primary custody of the child, which means the person who lives with the child, pays the majority of the living expenses, and has primary custody of the child.

The Virginia Department of Social Services provides a Child Support Calculator to help parents determine the estimated amount of child support they may be responsible for paying. However, this estimate is not legally binding and a final determination of child support payments will be made by a court of law.

What does Child Support Cover in Virginia?

Child support in Virginia covers the basic needs of a child, including food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities. In addition to these necessities, child support may also be used to cover additional expenses such as:

  1. Healthcare: This includes medical, dental, and vision expenses for the child. If the child requires special medical attention, child support payments may be increased to cover these expenses.
  2. Education: Child support may be used to pay for the child’s education, including tuition, books, and school supplies.
  3. Childcare: If a parent needs to pay for childcare in order to work, child support may be used to cover these expenses.
  4. Extracurricular activities: Child support may be used to pay for the child’s participation in sports, music, or other after-school activities.

Child Support When One Parent Lives Outside Virginia

To enforce child support orders beyond state boundaries, each state has to have the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) in place. Virginia is no exception.

The UIFSA ensures that child support processes and procedures are consistent across states. When one spouse lives in another state where the Virginia courts do not have the authority to adjudicate or enforce orders, UIFSA reduces these bottlenecks.

As a result of the UIFSA, a VA child support attorney can take legal action against a spouse who now lives in another state to enforce a child support order.

How is Child Maintenance Calculated In Virginia?

How Child Maintenance Calculated In Virginia

Learn How Child Maintenance Calculated In Virginia

To calculate child maintenance, Virginia uses the VA Income Shares Model/Percentage of Income Model/Melson Formula, as outlined in the Virginia Child Support Guidelines. This can be done easily using the Virginia Child Support Calculator or Child Support Worksheet.

These guidelines take into account the gross income of both parents and the number of children involved in the case to determine the amount of child support that should be paid.

The calculation starts with the gross income of both parents. Gross income includes salary, wages, commissions, bonuses, and any other form of taxable income. Income from self-employment, rental property, and other sources may also be considered.

Once the gross income of both parents has been determined, the guidelines take into account the number of children involved and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. The guidelines then provide an estimate of the basic child support obligation, which is the amount of child support that should be paid based on the parent’s income and the number of children involved.

The final child support amount may be adjusted based on various factors, such as the child’s extraordinary needs, the costs of health insurance for the child, and the cost of daycare for the child.

Virginia Child Support Calculator or Worksheet

While a child support calculator can be used to estimate child support, it is not a guarantee of the final amount of child maintenance that the judge will order. A child support worksheet is a form used by the VA courts (or negotiating spouses) to approximate the basic child support obligation of the parents.

Regardless of which approach you use, spouses can decide on a child support sum and amend the worksheet accordingly to ensure it accurately reflects their agreement. Both establish a presumption duty to pay child support.

The final decision on the amount of child support is made by the administrative law judge, administrator, or court.

How Virginia Guidelines are Applied

The VA court will use child support guidelines, which are law-based and are sometimes known simply as “Guidelines.  Guidelines establish a fundamental minimum amount of child maintenance, from which the court can differ after considering a variety of considerations.

The criteria are believed to be rational, and a decision of support that conforms to the guidelines is believed to be in the best interest of the child,” according to the guidelines.

The Virginia Guidelines are based on Net Monthly Income. The court also will employ one of two methods after determining Net Monthly Income:

1. The first method applies if an obligor’s net monthly income is less than $7,500.00. The judge will consider the number of children in the household who are the subject of the petition in this case (note that a different calculation applies if an obligor has children in two different households).

2. The second method applies if an obligor’s net monthly income is more than $7,500.00.

Gross Income Included in Calculating Child Maintenance

For child support calculation purposes, gross income includes:

  • all wages and salary, including commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses
  • self-employment income
  • interest and dividends
  • net rental income from property the parent owns

Even jobless parents are likely to have some sources of income, like:

  • severance pay
  • unemployment benefits
  • retirement benefits
  • veterans’ benefits
  • disability benefits, or
  • workers’ compensation awards.

A VA family court judge may also allocate an income value to parents who do not currently have income-earning employment (like a second house). If a jobless parent inherits assets that can be sold, for instance, the judge may include the property’s market value as a part of such parent’s income.

Where parents willfully go unemployed or underemployed in order to avoid paying child support, judges may infer (assign) income based on what they are supposed to be earning.

Net Income for VA Guidelines

How to determine Net Income for VA child support

How to determine Net Income for VA child support

Remove the following costs from the total gross income to get the parent’s net income for paying child support in Virginia:

  • Social Security taxes, or any mandated retirement plan contributions if the parent does not pay those taxes.
  • Income taxes, both federal and state (based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one exemption)
  • union dues
  • The VA court has ruled the parent to pay the child’s health and dental insurance premiums, as well as additional medical bills.

Parents who have already paid child support for another kid or children (from a previous relationship) may be eligible for a refund.

Is Medical Health Insurance Part of Child Support in Virginia?

Medical Health Insurance and Child Support in Virginia

Medical Health Insurance and Child Support in Virginia

Yes, in addition to the amount of support determined by the guidelines in Virginia, the parents will be responsible for the child’s health and dental insurance.

Whereas the noncustodial parent is presumed to provide coverage, this can readily be transferred to the other parent if it makes good sense.

For instance, suppose the custodial parent’s employer offers healthcare insurance for the dependent but the noncustodial parent does not.

Factors Virginia Courts Consider Before Ordering Maintenance

The following factors must be considered by the court when determining whether Virginia Family Code applies:

  • The age of the child and needs; the parents’ ability to assist
  • Financial resources available to the child
  • For a set period of time, you have custody and access to a child.
  • An increase or decrease in the obligee’s earnings or income due to the obligee’s property and assets
  • Childcare expenses incurred by either parent in order to keep a job
  • any other children under the care of either party
  • Any other children under the care of either party
  • What kind of alimony or spousal maintenance is being paid or received;
  • Obligor or obligee receives an automobile, house, or other benefits from his or her employer or business entity.
  • The parties or the child’s special education, health care, or other expenses
  • The cost of traveling to obtain custody of and access to a child.
  • Cash flow from any estate and assets, including real estate, personal property, and business property, can be positive or negative.

How to Challenge or Modify Child Support Order

In Virginia, a child support order can be challenged or modified if a significant change in circumstances occurs that affects the ability of either parent to pay, or the needs of the child. Here is a general outline of the steps involved in challenging or modifying a child support order in Virginia:

  1. Determine the reason for the challenge or modification: Before challenging or modifying a child support order, it is important to determine the reason for the request. This could be due to a change in income, a change in the needs of the child, or any other significant change in circumstances.
  2. File a motion for modification: To challenge or modify a child support order, a parent must file a motion for modification with the court. This motion should include the reason for the request and any supporting documentation.
  3. Attend a hearing: Once the motion has been filed, a hearing will be scheduled. Both parents will have the opportunity to present evidence and argue their case in front of a judge.
  4. Review of the evidence: The judge will review the evidence presented by both parents and make a decision based on the best interests of the child and the ability of both parents to pay.
  5. Order of modification: If the court determines that a modification of the child support order is necessary, a new order will be issued and the child support payments will be adjusted accordingly.

Steps to Collect Child Support in Virginia

Steps to Collect Child Support in Virginia

Steps to Collect Child Support in Virginia

Getting a child support order in place is only half the struggle in Virginia. You’ll also have to collect the money itself. A noncustodial parent is responsible for paying the full amount of child maintenance per month as imposed by the court. Here are the steps for getting child support in VA

1. Open a Child Support Case

Complete a child support application with your local child support agency/office

2. Locate the Other Parent

To begin the child maintenance procedure in VA, the child support services (CSS) office will use the information provided by the applying parent, as well as information gathered from other sources, to try to locate the other parent.

3. Establish Parentage

It’s critical to establish a legitimate relationship with the child when the other parent has been located. The state will assist you in locating the sufficient means. Parents can choose to acknowledge their parentage voluntarily or organize a genetic screening.

4. Establish a Child Support Order

A Virginia child support order specifies how much the other parent should pay and includes details such as the payment schedule and provisions for the child’s health insurance.

5. Set Up Payment

Deducting child maintenance from a parent’s paycheck and transferring the money to the other parent or guardian is the most typical method of payment. It’s a simple way to make and track child support payments.

6. Enforce the Support Order

Your VA child support services will enforce the child support order if the noncustodial parent does not pay the full amount or does not pay any. Exposing overdue child support payments to credit bureaus, intercepting income tax refunds, and Withholding child maintenance from unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits are examples of other enforcement measures.

7. Review the Order

Three years after the order is issued, either parent can request their local child support office to revise it. They can ask for a reassessment sooner than three years if a parent’s situation has changed significantly, such as loss of employment or imprisonment.

Virginia Child Support Services Office, Number, and Login Portal

In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) is the agency in charge of child support. Services provided by the division include:

  • Locating noncustodial parents
  • Establishing paternity
  • Enforcing child support orders

The VDSS also operates a Child Support Customer Service Center that provides information and assistance to parents seeking to establish or modify a child support order.

  • The center can be reached by phone or online.
  • Services provided by the center include:
    • Information on the child support process
    • Payment status
    • Assistance with other child support issues

The VDSS can be reached at:

Office – 801 E Main St, Richmond, VA 23219, United States
Phone Number – +1 800-468-8894
Online Login Portal –

Retroactive Child Support and Arrears

Retroactive child support can be awarded by the court if a child support order is established after the child was born. Arrears, on the other hand, are unpaid child support payments that accumulate over time.

In Virginia, a parent who owes child support arrears may face wage garnishment, tax refund interception, or other enforcement actions to collect the unpaid amount.

The consequences of not paying child support orders in Virginia can be very dire. This penalty may include:

  • Wage garnishment: The court can order the non-custodial parent’s employer to deduct child support payments from their paychecks.
  • Tax refund interception: The state can intercept the non-custodial parent’s state and federal tax refunds and apply the funds to outstanding child support arrears.
  • Driver’s license suspension: The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend the non-custodial parent’s driver’s license if they owe more than $500 in past-due child support.
  • Credit report: Late or missed child support payments can be reported to the credit bureaus, affecting the non-custodial parent’s credit score.
  • Contempt of court: The non-custodial parent can be found in contempt of court for not following the child support order, which can result in fines or even jail time.
  • Liens on property: The state can place liens on the non-custodial parent’s property, such as real estate or vehicles, to collect past-due child support.

Enforcing retroactive child support payments in Virginia typically involves obtaining a court order and taking enforcement actions to collect the past-due amount. Here is a general outline of the steps to enforce retroactive child support payments in Virginia:

  1. Obtain a court order: The first step in enforcing retroactive child support payments is to obtain a court order that establishes the amount owed and sets a payment schedule. This may require going to court and presenting evidence of the noncustodial parent’s income and other financial information.
  2. Serve the order: Once a court order has been obtained, it must be served on the noncustodial parent to make it legally binding. This may involve hiring a process server or using the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) Child Support Enforcement Division.
  3. Take enforcement actions: If the noncustodial parent fails to make retroactive child support payments as ordered, the VDSS can take enforcement actions to collect the past-due amount. This may include wage garnishment, tax refund interception, driver’s license suspension, or other enforcement actions authorized by Virginia law.
  4. Monitor compliance: The VDSS or the custodial parent’s attorney can monitor compliance with the court order and take additional enforcement actions if necessary.

If you feel the arrears are being demanded wrongly, you can learn how to get child support arrears dismissed HERE.

How to Pay Child Maintenance in Virginia

In Virginia, parents can pay child maintenance in a variety of ways, as long as your order doesn’t state otherwise:

  • by debit or credit card,
  • mail,
  • check
  • bank transfer
  • direct deposit
  • income withholding, or
  • auto-draft from a bank account.

How to Check your Child Support Payment History in VA

Child Support Payment History in VA

How to Check Child Support Payment History in VA

When there are disagreements between the parents and a need to confirm how much money is owed, child support payment records are extremely beneficial.

When Does Child Support End in Virginia?

The Virginia court “may order that one or both parents support a child until:

  • the child is 18 years or finishes high school (whichever comes last),
  • the child emancipates by getting married,
  • the child’s disabilities are removed, or
  • the child dies.

Nevertheless, if the judge determines that the child is disabled (physically or mentally), the child can receive support perpetually.

Custody Rights of a Child in Virginia

Understanding Custody Rights of a Child in Virginia

How Does VA Child Support Work if one Parent Has no Job?

In Virginia, if one parent has no job, the court may still order that parent to pay child support based on their potential earning capacity. Potential earning capacity is defined as the amount the parent could earn if they were employed, based on their education, work history, and other relevant factors.

Here is a general outline of how child support works in Virginia when one parent has no job:

  1. Income determination: The court will determine the noncustodial parent’s potential earning capacity and may consider factors such as their education, work history, and job market conditions.
  2. Child support calculation: The court will use the noncustodial parent’s potential earning capacity to calculate the amount of child support they will be ordered to pay. The Virginia child support guidelines provide a formula for determining child support based on the parents’ incomes.
  3. Payment schedule: The court will order the noncustodial parent to pay child support on a regular basis, typically monthly.

Is Child Support Tax Deductible in Virginia?

NO. In Virginia, child support payments are neither taxable to the recipient nor tax-deductible by the payer as stated by the IRS. Don’t include child support payments when calculating your gross income to see whether you have to file a tax return.

However, either parent may be eligible for a dependency exemption per child. If the parents can’t agree on who receives the exemption, the judge will set out the terms in a court order.

Getting a Skilled Virginia Child Support Attorney

If you are involved in a family law matter in Virginia, you may have a lot more questions than answers at this moment. You are not alone; Correspondence with members has shown that using the services of specialized child support attorneys saves a lot of hassles and most importantly, ensures you come out as a winner for you and your kid.

If you need to fight your child maintenance cause in VA with confidence, then you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

Luckily, we have compiled a database of these expert child support lawyers and made them available for the convenience of our members. You can reach them at the click of a button for legal advice and representation on child maintenance.

Click Here to Get our Free Virginia Alimony recommendation.

Virginia Resource

- Virginia Child Adoption Guidelines
- Virginia Childcare Guidelines
- Virginia Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- Virginia Child Support Guidelines
- Virginia Divorce Guidelines
- Virginia Marital Property Guidelines
- Virginia Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check Virginia Child Support Payment History
- Virginia Child Support Calculator
- Virginia Grants and Assistance for Single Mothers


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Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.