All children have a right to the support of both parents, regardless of whether the parents are married, unmarried, divorced or separated. At the Fairfax County law office of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC, our family law attorneys help clients address the complex issues related to child support calculations and modifications. We offer compassionate guidance in the initial stages of establishing support as well as helping clients when existing orders need to be reviewed for modification or enforcement purposes.
Protect Your Children and Your Family's Rights
Our family lawyers have over 20 years of experience helping clients establish and collect child support. In many cases, support is established in the context of a divorce. However, in other cases, the parents may never have married. A paternity action may be necessary to establish parentage and subsequent support obligations. We guide clients through the process, thoroughly explaining their rights and obligations under Virginia law.
Using Virginia's child support guidelines, we look at the combined gross incomes of the parents, work-related day care costs, health insurance costs for the child(ren) and the visitation arrangements. Using these factors we apply the formula for calculating guideline child support and advise our clients of the amount they could expect to pay or receive in support payments. View the Virginia Department of Social Services website for more information.
Child Support Modification
When there is a material change in circumstances, it may be necessary to modify existing child support orders. A material change could include a job loss or reduction in hours, a pay cut or demotion, a promotion or raise, a child emancipating or no longer needing day care, or any other material increase or decrease in income or child related expenses. Importantly, the material change in circumstances can be on the part of either party (the one paying support or the one receiving it). For example, the paying spouse could seek a modification because the receiving spouse has received a substantial raise at work or a child is no longer in day care.
Child Support Enforcement
When a parent fails to pay child support, there may be significant civil and criminal penalties. Once arrearages are established, the noncompliant parent may be subjected to an income deduction order (wage garnishment), contempt of court sanctions, incarceration, drivers' license suspension and penalties. We represent parents who are attempting to get child support orders enforced as well as parents who need quality defense against enforcement actions.
Child Support Obligations: Is a Parent Underemployed?
One of the most confusing issues our clients face is the issue of underemployment — is a parent underemployed (intentionally or unintentionally earning less than they are able to earn) for the purpose of imputed income. In the current economy, some people are being legitimately forced to reduce hours or accept demotions in order to avoid getting laid off. Others are subjects of company downsizing and are out of work. A former vice president of a company may not be capable of finding similar employment with similar pay. In such situations, modification of the support obligation may be in order.
There may be situations in which either the parent who is ordered to pay support or the parent receiving support chooses not to work or to be employed in a job that pays less than he or she is capable of earning. If either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court may not modify the order based on that lower income.
Contact Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC
If you have questions about Virginia's child support laws or would like to discuss your situation, contact our family law attorneys at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC.