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Legal Information: Virginia

Virginia Child Support

Laws current as of
December 19, 2023

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:

  • The order can be extended until the child reaches 19 or graduates high school, whichever comes first if the child is:
    • a full-time high school student;
    • not self-supporting; and
    • living in the home of the parent (or other guardian) seeking support; or
  • The order can be extended for a time period to be determined when the child is:
    • severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled;
    • unable to live independently and support him/herself; 
    • living in the home of the parent seeking support.1

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. 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, unless there is a good reason to do something different, all child support orders will usually state that each parent must pay all “reasonable and necessary” unreimbursed medical or dental expenses in an amount that is proportionate to their gross income. Medical and dental expenses include, but are not be limited to, the following:

  • eyeglasses; 
  • prescription medication; 
  • prosthetics; 
  • orthodontics; and
  • mental health or developmental disabilities services, such as services provided by a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist.2

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.3

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); 20-108.2(D)
3 Va. Code § 20-108.2(D1) 

Are childcare or daycare expenses included in a child support order?

If the custodial parent needs to put the children in daycare or has other childcare costs due to his/her employment, the costs will be usually added to the basic child support obligation. The childcare costs cannot be more than an amount the court believes is “required” to provide quality care from a licensed provider. The custodial parent may have to show documentation of the costs if the non-custodial parent makes this request. However, it is important to know that if the judge thinks it is appropriate, s/he can consider the willingness and availability of the noncustodial parent to provide child care personally when deciding whether child-care costs are necessary or excessive.1

1 Va. Code § 20-108.2(F)

Can my child’s medical care be covered in a child support case?

The other parent can be ordered to pay a portion of your child’s medical care if you request it. You would have to give the court bills showing the cost of your child’s medical care as part of your child support case in domestic relations district court.1 You must give the other parent and the guardian ad litem a copy of the bills along with a written notice of your plan to use it as evidence in court at least 30 days before your trial is scheduled. To be accepted by the court, this evidence must include a sworn statement from the person in charge of managing the bills (the “custodian of the record”) confirming that each bill is a true and accurate copy of the original bill.2 

The other parent must file any response to this evidence at least 15 days before the trial is scheduled.3 If it becomes necessary for the doctor or the custodian of record to testify in person, the court will determine whether you or the other parent needs to pay the costs of that person’s appearance. If appropriate, the judge may split the cost between you.2 

1 Va. Code § 16.1-245.2(A)
2 Va. Code § 16.1-245.2(A)(2)
3 Va. Code § 16.1-245.2(B)

If the other parent is paying child support for children who are not mine, how will this affect the amount of child support I get?

Where there is an existing child support order that requires the other parent to pay child support for children who are not yours, the court will generally deduct the amount s/he “actually pays” from his/her gross income.1 Therefore, the child support owed to you will be calculated based on this reduced amount of gross income. If you have proof that the other parent is not actually paying the ordered child support for his/her other children, this is important information to bring up in court. In this case, the judge may agree not to deduct that amount when calculating the amount paid to you.

1 Va. Code § 20-108.2(C)