Helping You Through Difficult Times

Answering Your Questions About Child And Spousal Support

Child support and spousal support (alimony) play critical roles in the post-divorce stability of many families. They are also topics that can seem intimidating and confusing. Whether you are filing for child or spousal support or have received a request to pay child support or alimony, it’s important to talk to an experienced Virginia family law attorney to understand how the system works.

At McClung & Associates in Henrico, we are family law attorneys dedicated to helping families who are facing a low point in their lives and helping them come out of it ready to experience a happier future. To discuss your questions on divorce-related matters, call us at 804-548-6565. You can also make an online request for an initial phone consultation.

Here are some answers to questions we frequently hear in our office about child support and spousal support.

Why do I have to pay child support if we are going to have joint custody of our children?

Child custody and child support determinations are made separately in Virginia, and there is no law in the commonwealth that prevents a parent with joint custody and equal parenting time from making a child support request.

What does the court look at when determining child support?

The main figures that the court looks at include you and your ex’s gross monthly income; payments being made in separate child support or spousal support cases (from other marriages); the amount of money you are paying toward your children’s health care and day care expenses; and the number of children for which the child support is being sought.

While there are calculators on the Internet that purport to help you estimate how much child support you will owe, it pays to discuss the matter with a Virginia divorce lawyer, who can walk you through the complexities of the child support determination process.

What happens if I lose my job and can’t pay child support?

Discuss the situation with your attorney, who may be able to guide you to state programs that can assist you during your unemployment period. Your obligation to pay child support does not stop with the loss of your job, so it is better to be proactive rather than face back child-support payments and the consequences of violating part of your divorce orders.

What do I do if my ex stops paying child support?

Unless your child has graduated from high school or reached the age of 19 (whichever comes first), your ex should continue to pay child support as part of your divorce agreement. If they are not fulfilling their obligation, you may file a contempt order to enforce the child support part of your divorce decree.

My ex has filed a spousal support request. How does the court determine spousal support amounts?

Spousal support requests are determined by the court after reviewing multiple factors, including:

  • Health and age of both parties
  • Current income sources and work positions
  • Age and number of minor children
  • Degree to which the divorce will financially impact the lifestyle of the lower-earning party
  • Potential for the lower earner to upgrade their income through vocational or professional training
  • Length of a professional training program for the lower earner

Most spousal support orders have time limits attached to them, usually attached to milestones such as children reaching school age, or the receiving party finishing a career training program. It is rare for courts to grant “permanent” support for a spouse.