Children are expensive; there is no doubt about it. When a third party steps up and receives custody of a minor child, that custodian has new, often times unplanned for, expenses. Many times custodians want financial support from the parents but do not know where to begin. Do they file against one parent? Both parents? Will the custodian’s income be a factor? The questions can be endless and the process can feel overwhelming.
Assuming all parties (parent(s) and custodian) reside in Virginia, a third party custodian can seek child support through the court in Virginia as follows:
First, the custodian would file a separate child support petition against each parent, and request that the court docket the two petitions together.
Second, once the matter is docketed, the parents would provide and exchange their income information, and the court or counsel would proceed to calculate support per the Virginia Child Support Guidelines.
The first calculation would be to determine the amount of support that the mother would owe the father under the guidelines if he had custody. This would then be the mother’s obligation to the third party custodian. The second calculation would be the child support that the father would owe the mother if she had custody. This would then be the father’s obligation to the third party custodian. Note that neither calculation is based on the custodian’s income.
Establishing what each parent’s income is can be the most difficult part of the child support process. Many courts authorize discovery, a process whereby the parties ask questions and request documents related to the case. However, the discovery process can be complicated and tedious. An experienced attorney can help make sure the custodian requests and receives the right information and documentation.
Finally, counsel for the custodian would prepare and submit for the court’s entry two separate child support orders—one for each parent. The third party custodian would then begin receiving child support separately from both parents per these orders.
A third party who takes on custody of a child assumes a huge responsibility, and that child’s parents can and should be required to contribute in the form of child support. The process can be difficult, but an experienced family law attorney can help ensure that the correct information reaches the court in the most expeditious manner.
Livesay & Myers, P.C. has teams of experienced family lawyers in Ashburn, Fairfax, Fredericksburg and Manassas, Virginia. If you are facing a child custody, support or other family law case in Northern Virginia, contact us to schedule a consultation today.