It is more likely than not, that if you and your former spouse have minor children together, child support will be an issue that must be determined at or around the time of your divorce or break-up. In most cases, child support amounts are determined according to the Virginia Child Support Guidelines which takes into consideration the gross annual income of you and your ex, whether you or your ex support children from another marriage/relationship, the cost of health insurance for your children and any day care or child care expenses.
While determining how much is paid in child support is an important issue to sort-out, so is the question of when child support must begin to be paid. The question also arises if child support can be received retroactively (for a period of time in the past) when you and your ex were separated but did not have a written agreement or child support order in place.
Pursuant to Section 20-108.1 of the Virginia Code, judges can award retroactive child support from the date the petition for child support was filed until a child support order is entered by the court, provided that the person who filed the petition does not delay unnecessarily in serving the petition on the other parent. This means that even if you and your ex have been separated for a while, the court can only award retroactive child support beginning on the date the action was filed in court. The judge cannot award child support for a period of time farther back, even if you can show that you were supporting the child during this time. For this reason, it is important to work-out child support schedules as early as possible in your separation from your ex.
However, a court can award retroactive child support for a period of time that pre-dates the filing of the action in court under one circumstance – if you and your ex executed a valid, written child support agreement. In this situation, the judge can order retroactive child support starting from the date the agreement was executed.
You should consider filing for child support or signing a child support agreement with your ex as soon as practicable once you decide on separation to ensure that you “start the clock” on the accrual of child support. Likewise, the non-custodial parent should consider paying the custodial parent some child support after the action is filed in court. Because child support, and pretty much most family law issues, take months to travel through the court system, the sum of retroactive child support (from the date of filing)can be high and may lead to substantial arrears. In these cases, courts will often increase the amount of monthly child support to be paid until the arrears are caught-up.
As you can see, starting early can greatly increase your chances of obtaining the child support you need to raise your children. If you are considering filing a child support petition or have any other family law issue, you need the help of a qualified family law attorney to fight for your rights and the payments needed for you and your children. The knowledgeable family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have years of experience representing individuals in child support and all other family law cases. Call us today for a consultation at (888) 530-4374.