Are you a good father, even after divorce? Of course you are; most Dads take their roles as caregivers and providers very seriously. After divorce, many Dads primarily support their children through monthly financial contributions for their care, upkeep and feeding. This is because most Virginia Dads are not the sole custodians of their own kids. Child support is crucial for a child’s academic, social and emotional success. Still, circumstances change, so how can a Virginia dad appeal a child support order?
Who Established Child Support?
Let’s assume you went through a divorce and you and your wife settled everything amicably. Your divorce was decreed by a Circuit Court, but child support was determined in a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (JDRDC). Every county, and every major city in Virginia, has a JDRDC (an abbreviation that appears nowhere in the legal system, but boy, does it save Jason’s typing fingers).
The JDRDC Judge in, say, the Virginia Beach 2nd Judicial District of Virginia follows Code of Virginia §20-108.2 guidelines in setting child support payments.
Payments are based on your income and the number of children you are required to support. Say your job as a marine animal trainer brings you $4,476 in monthly gross income, which, amazingly, happens to be Virginia’s average personal income (Jason’s fingers have amazing talents at randomly selecting numbers).
You may pay about $698 to your ex-wife for child support (since there are many factors involved in calculating sole child support) if you have one child. Oh, you and she cranked out a few, eh? Virginia thought of that:
Two children — $1,054
Three children — $1,260
Four children — Long winter nights, were there? — $1,407
Five children — You two were busy, weren’t you? — $1,548
Six children — Oh, come now, really? — $1,682
Can Child Support Be Changed if My Income Changes?
You pay steadily for a year or two from your average Virginia income, glad to help your children. Then one day, just before a full moon, you get slowly attacked by a slow-moving yet rogue sea turtle and your life passes (slowly) before your eyes. You simply cannot bear to enter the water again or work with marine animals, so you change jobs. You become an usher at a local movie complex, one of the lowest-paying jobs in Virginia. You are now taking in a woefully sad $1,520 gross monthly income.
Your income has changed by 25 percent or more; this is a critical amount, because less than a 25 percent change and you cannot appeal the ruling, according to the Division of Child Support Enforcement. You cannot afford to provide for your kids at the same rate of child support.
Where to Appeal a Child Support Ruling
The JDRDC was the court to decree your levels of child support, but your appeal is to the Circuit Court, a higher court than the District Court. Use an attorney, because the paperwork can be confusing, and done wrong, it could mean the end of your appeal. If you are unhappy with the JDRDC’s original order, you have 10 days to appeal to Circuit Court, but in most cases the initial decision will be in force far past that 10-day mark.
Appealing a Child Support Order to the Division of Child Support Enforcement
Virginia’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) oversees child support, so you may need to appeal a ruling there. We again caution you to use an attorney, to get the appeal correct the first time.
DCSE recognizes three types of appeals:
- Appeals by Non-Custodial Parent — appeals to provisions of Administrative Support Orders (new or modified); appeals to an Advance Notice of Lien; or appeals regarding state income tax Intercept and Order to Withhold
- Appeals by Non-Custodial Parent After Administrative Review — appeals regarding Federal Income Tax Offset, consumer reporting referral, comptroller vendor debt set off and passport denial
- Appeals by Custodial Parent — appeals on provisions of Administrative Support Orders (new or modified)
Any request for an appeal from an action of the DCSE must be made in writing and mailed to the Virginia Department of Social Services, Appeals and Fair Hearings Unit, 801 E. Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219.
What Virginia Code Can Do For Your Child Support Payments
The Circuit Court judge or DCSE presiding official will look at your financial paperwork, like your pay stubs and see you really are only making $1,520 a month (boy, that sea turtle really scarred you, didn’t it?).
The modified schedule from the Code of Virginia means new, lower monthly payments:
- One kid — $269
- Two kids — $410
- Three kids — $495
- Four kids — $552
- Five kids — $608
- Six kids — $661
In most cases the state of Virginia will work with you, so long as you have not deliberately chosen to take a lower-paying job or scaled back your hours just for a lower income. The state’s primary job is to ensure the best interests of your children, not let you shirk financial responsibilities.
The lower amounts of child support payments are not a path for you to slam away huge amounts of hidden cash, of course; they are realistic for the new life you now lead as a movie usher instead of a dedicated marine animal trainer. And on nights when anniversary showings of Jaws or Finding Nemo are playing, you may have to just hide in the popcorn recycling room (admit it, you know there has to be one).
Hire the Child Support Lawyers for Fathers!
A call to The Firm for Men at 757-383-9184, or reaching out to us online, can help get you on the path to an appeal of your child support. We have experience working with Virginia courts to make things right and equitable for your children, your ex-spouse, and you.