Whitney Houston reminded us that children—your own and any other Virginian’s—are our future. Her message1 may have mostly spoken to eighth grade girls singing to themselves in mirrors, but children really are the future. We want them to not only enjoy their childhoods but grow to be responsible, contributing citizens. To get them through childhood usually takes both parents working to secure opportunities for their children. This may mean both parents work, and sometimes a parent even holds down two jobs. Few Virginia families feel like money is never a problem, but few Virginia parents would deprive their children of needs (plus a few wants). Divorce or a break-up should not change that; child support ensures children still get their needs and most of their wants fulfilled. Child support is an investment in your children’s future.
Calculating Child Support in Virginia
No one—not a court, not a company—can draw blood from a stone. And that’s why Virginia law recognizes the financial limitations of divorcing parents when calculating child support. Virginia Code Title 20, Chapter 6, Section 20-108.2 lays out the full schedule of child support for just about every combination of economics and number of children. Virginia parents with as little as $350 monthly income are required to provide some portion of their income for their children in the physical custody of the other parent. These payments can cover from one to six children and climb to five percent of monthly income when the noncustodial parent earns $35,000 a month or more (that makes for annual income of $420,000 or more!).
Child support is intended to provide for the basic needs of children in divorced households. The law makes note of only two areas:
- Medical and dental expenses
- Child care expenses
Beyond this, Virginia expects the noncustodial parent to provide child support earmarked for housing, food, clothing, school expenses, toys, books, and other childhood items. Teenagers have different needs than toddlers, and the courts recognize this. Child support for teenagers can cover car costs, prom dresses, makeup, SAT tests and team apparel.
How Can Child Support Be Spent?
Since courts routinely do not ask the custodial parent for an accounting of expenses, you have little recourse if you suspect your wife is spending your child support check on herself. Your ex-wife may have a love of money, but as long as your children are cared for, their needs are met, and their wants are also addressed, you have little grounds to argue how she spends the money you send her. You and your lawyer would have to show the court that your children are suffering while your wife is neglecting them by not providing their needs and wants.
If you do suspect an issue in which your child support is intercepted by your ex-wife for her own uses, the best way to protect your children might be through mediation, not the court. You and your lawyer can meet with your ex-wife and her lawyer to address your concerns and her spending. The goal is not to seek retribution on your ex-wife, but to make certain your children’s needs are being met.
Can I Withhold Child Support Payments?
Even if you’re suspicious of what you’d consider improper spending, you cannot withhold child support payments in hopes of getting a response from your ex-wife. She may not bother responding to you, but could instead turn to the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). You and your attorney could have a tough time getting past the DCSE. It is a very effective part of the Virginia Department of Social Services, and has a lot of experience with recovering child support. In 2013 the DCSE collected $657.2 million in child support payments, using all the weapons at its disposal:
- Passport denial
- Wage withholding
- Tax refund interception
- License suspension
Your attorney will tell you: don’t hold back your child support, because the consequences can be swift and life-altering. Without your driver’s license you may not be able to get to work, or, worse, risk traffic citations for driving without it. The tax refund you counted on for a trip to Disney World with your kids may instead go directly to your ex-wife, leaving you scrambling to explain why the kids’ vacation disappeared. That weekly paycheck may suddenly take a serious downturn if your ex-wife wins wage garnishment.
Know Your Rights! Schedule a Consultation with a Child Support Lawyer for Men
To better understand your options with paying or getting child support, contact The Firm for Men by calling 757-383-9184. Speak with one of our attorneys about your concerns and your case, and learn how we can help. Our child support and family law attorneys have been serving the men of Hampton Roads for over a decade!