Basic information about child support in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
What is child support?
Child support is money paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent or caretaker with physical custody to assist with the costs of caring for the child. Child support can also include health insurance, including dental coverage, whenever such coverage is available at a “reasonable cost,” as determined by the hearing officer or the judge.1 The custodial parent may apply for child support even without a court order or an agreement establishing custody. A person interested in seeking child support should contact the Department of Justice, Division of Paternity and Child Support (P&CS).
1 16 V.I.C. § 341(g)
Who determines child support?
Typically the Department of Justice, Division of Paternity and Child Support (P&CS) will determine child support in-house, with an administrative law judge. Sometimes the Family Court judge will set child support. The amount is determined by assessing the “available income” (monthly gross income minus income tax, FICA, union dues and mandatory retirement). The non-custodial parent will pay a percentage of the “available income” depending on the number of children the person has. For example, a parent with one child of the same mother could pay 15%, two children 20%, three children 25%, an so on. If a parent is already paying child support for children by another person, the amount could be less.
When should I file for child support?
The person seeking child support should file an application with the Department of Justice, Division of Paternity and Child Support (P&CS) as soon as possible. Child support is determined from the date the application is accepted by P&CS. The non-custodial parent is not responsible for child support until an application is accepted. Child support debts are not subject to statute of limitations. In other words, the debt will not disappear after a certain period of time; it is always collectable no matter how much time passes from the child support order. P&CS will assist custodial parents in obtaining past due child support, but a child support order must have been made.
Until what age does child support have to be paid?
At a minimum, child support must be paid until the child turns 18. A judge can order that the payments continue between ages 18 and 22 if:
- the child is regularly attending an accredited school, or a school approved by the court, leading to a high school diploma or its equivalent;
- the child is regularly attending a course of vocational technical training either as part of a regular school program or under special arrangements adapted to the individual child’s needs; or
- the child is a full-time student in a college, university, or area school, or has been accepted for admission to a college, university, or area school and the next regular term has not yet begun.1
If the child is dependent because of a physical or mental disability, child support can be ordered to be paid no matter the child’s age.1
1 16 V.I.C. § 341(g)