Donna Dougherty Law P.C.

What steps should you take to seek child support?

After a divorce or separation, child support can be an important factor in ensuring the health, happiness and general wellbeing of the child. Given the recent changes in Virginia's laws regarding marriage equality and second-parent adoptions, if you are a custodial parent coming out of a same-sex partnership, you should face no additional obstacles in seeking support for your child or children.

According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, you may be eligible for child support services if you are a custodial parent or guardian who has physical custody of the child. If you are a noncustodial parent, you also may apply. Finally, you may qualify for support even if your child is over the age of 18 if you are owed remuneration for a support order established before your child's 18th birthday.

Child support may be ordered administratively by the Division of Child Support Enforcement or legally by the court; however, it need not be a legal obligation. Noncustodial parents may opt to provide health insurance, money or other forms of support on a voluntary basis. 

You can apply for services with the DCSE online or request the application in writing or over the telephone. For the application process, both parents need to provide some information, including the following:

  • Identification, including full legal names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and driver's license numbers
  • Addresses (present or previous)
  • Information about the noncustodial parent's employment and income, which may include names and addresses of previous or current employers and paycheck stubs
  • Relevant details about bank accounts, property or other assets owned by the noncustodial parent

If you are the custodial parent, you also need to provide records for the child, including his or her Social Security number and birth certificate. Any documentation of protective, visitation, custody or child support orders should also go to the DCSE. The agency does request a signed and notarized Acknowledgement of Paternity form, but this may not be available or relevant in all cases.

Once you have provided this information, the court or DCSE determines the amount of child support that will be required based on several factors, such as the income of both parents and the child's needs. Other related expenses, such as health care and child care, are taken into account as well. Court-ordered support is effective immediately upon being entered by the court. If the order comes from the DCSE, the noncustodial parent is not required to start making payments until he or she is served with the order.

This information is intended for educational purposes and does not represent legal advice.

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