Basic information about child support in Virginia.
Who can get child support?
You can seek a child support order for any and all children who live with you, whether you are married or unmarried.
If you are unmarried, you will first have to establish a legal relationship between the child and the father, which is called paternity. If you are married, paternity is automatically established once the child is born.
Child support can be filed for as part of a divorce action, a separation action, a custody action, or a paternity action. You can also receive a temporary child support order as part of a protective order for family abuse. See How can a protective order help me? for more information.
How long does child support last?
Generally, a child support obligation will continue until the child reaches the age of 18. However, the court will order that the support continue after the child reaches the age of 18 in the following cases:
- If the child is over 18, a full-time high school student, not self-supporting and living in the home of the parent (or other guardian) seeking support, the order can be extended until the child reaches 19 or graduates, whichever comes first; or
- When the child is severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, unable to live independently and support him/herself, and resides in the home of the parent seeking support.
The court may also extend a support obligation after the child reaches the age of 18 if both parents agree to it and request the extension.1
1 Va. Code § 20-124.2(C)
How much child support will I get?
The amount of the child support payments will depend on many factors, such as the number of children, the parents’ income, etc. The judge will use specific Virginia child support guidelines as a guide to figure out the amount. To look at the guidelines, click here. However, it is possible that the judge could stray from the guidelines if using them would be unfair or inappropriate in a particular case.1
As part of the child support order, the judge can also order that either parent provide health care coverage. In addition, if you file for child support within six months of your child’s birth, the child support order can also require that each parent to pay a portion of any “reasonable and necessary” unpaid expenses related to the mother’s pregnancy and delivery of the child.2
For more information on how to get your child support order enforced, visit the Virginia Department of Social Services website.
1 Va. Code § 20-108.2
2 Va. Code § 20-124.2(C), (D1)