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 and 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 although for unmarried couples, paternity may have to be established.2
1 16 V.I.C. §§ 341(g); 345(d)
2 See United States Virgin Islands Department of Justice website
How is the amount of child support determined?
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.1 The amount ordered will be based on child support guidelines, which use a cost-sharing approach so that the child’s needs are divided proportionally between the parents based upon their incomes. However, these guidelines do not have to be followed if it is determined that it would be unfair (unjust) to do so.2
For the purposes of the guidelines, “income” is defined as any form of periodic payments including, but not limited to, wages, salary, bonuses, commissions, compensation as an independent contractor, workers’ compensation, disability, unemployment compensation, annuity and retirement benefits, awards in civil suits, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, insurance proceeds, trust income, partnership profits, and any other payments made by any person, private entity, or government. “Income” does not include federal, state, territorial, and local taxes, Social Security and other mandatory retirement and disability contributions, mandatory union dues, public assistance payments, and other amounts excluded (exempted) by federal law.3
1 3 V.I.C. § 116(a), (b); see also Office of Child Support Enforcement website section (6)(1.2)
2 16 V.I.C. § 345(c)
3 16 V.I.C. § 341(e)
When and where should I file for child support?
You should go to the Virgin Islands Department of Justice, Division of Paternity and Child Support (P&CS) to complete the necessary documents to start the process. In the district of St. Thomas/St. John, the Division of Paternity and Child Support offices are located at 8000 Nisky Center, 2nd Floor, Ste. No. 500. The telephone number is (340) 775-3070. In the district of St. Croix, the Virgin Islands Department of Justice-Division of Paternity and Child Support is located at RRO 1-249 Estate Glynn. The telephone number is (340) 778-5958.1 Child support will be owed starting from the date a petition for child support is filed.2
1 See the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands website
2 16 V.I.C. § 346
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)
How will I get the child support payments owed to me?
Every child support order will be paid through an immediate income withholding order that attaches to any current or future income source. The only exceptions to this rule are:
- if you and the other parent agree in writing to an alternative arrangement; or
- either parent convinces the judge or hearing officer that:
- there is good cause to make a different arrangement; and
- the alternate arrangement is in the child’s best interest.1
1 16 V.I.C. § 353(a), (b)