Posts Tagged ‘parent’

Calculating Child Support In Virginia

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about how to calculate child support in Virginia (see the post here).

Basically, Virginia has decided that a child should be able to share in the standard of living of the parents and the parents’ gross monthly income is used as a means of determining that standard of living.

Virginia also recognizes that some things are going to cost the same whether they are used by one child or 3 children, so the child support obligation is a ‘unitary’ obligation for the total number of children and not a set amount for each child.  For example, a family income of $5,000 per month yields a total child support obligation of $666 for one child, $1036 for two children (an increase of $370 for the second child), $1295 for three children (an increase of $259 for the third child), etc.  Whether you like this idea or not tends to depend on whether you are paying or receiving the child support payment, and whether you are just starting your child support obligation or your child is reaching the age at which a child support payment is no longer required.

The mechanics are still the same as when I wrote the previous post and the support numbers are still available in the Code of Virginia at section 20-108.2.  And there are still a number of specific details that might cause your individual case to be calculated just a little bit differently.

What has changed is that there used to be a lot of places online where you could find a child support calculator.  Notably, the Department of Social Services used to have an online calculator and consumers could go there to get an estimate of what they might receive, or what they might be ordered to pay.  There is still a menu item on the DSS website pointing you to a page to calculate Child Support.  However, that page now tells you that they no longer provide the calculator and you should search on the internet for a place to purchase software to do the calculation for you.

I’m an attorney, and I calculate child support every week, so it might make sense for me to purchase the software.  However, you might only want to calculate child support once a year at most and it doesn’t really make sense for you to purchase anything.  So I wanted to see if I could find a place on the internet to send my clients who were wanting to figure out what might happen to their child support if they got a raise (or a reduction) in pay.

My new favorite place to find Virginia online child support calculations is by going to

A parent who doesn’t deal with child support all the time may not know what goes into each specific line, but they can always just enter the basic income information and get a good starting estimate of the support amount.  Reading the line items on the form can also be a good tool for forming questions to ask your attorney when you meet to discuss child support.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Is an adopted child considered blood line in a will?

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I found this question on the internet awhile ago, and thought that others might have the same question themselves.

In this case, there wasn’t a lot of information other than the fact that this man had adopted his wife’s child, but wanted to make sure that all of his inheritances in his Will would pass only to his bloodline.

Legally, as soon as you adopt a child, it is considered YOUR child for all intents and purposes.  By law, there is no distinction between a child by blood and a child by adoption.  Generally, when the adoption is finalized, the child loses the legal connection to the birth parents and gains the legal connection to the adoptive parents.

This is different than the status of a step-child.  A step-child is not considered your child for any legal action, even though you were the parent for the child’s entire life.

There are ways of drafting your Will, Trust or other estate planning documents to create your desired end result.

You can disinherit any of your children by putting the language into the document.  It doesn’t have to be an adopted child.  I have had clients who wanted to make sure that one of their children did not get anything when they died because of things that child did, or perhaps they have already given one child more than his or her share and now wanted to make sure that what was left would go to another child.

Some people also give different amounts to different children by naming them specifically along with a percentage of the estate value

In this man’s case, he could write his Will so that his adopted child did not inherit something that he felt strongly should be kept in the blood line.

I’ve also had clients who wanted to make sure that their step-children were treated the same as their biological children.    I had one client who wanted to make sure that their son’s step-daughter was treated as any of their other grandchildren.

This is relatively easy to accomplish with the right drafting, but you need to make sure it is done correctly or you will not get your desired result.  Even worse, you might end up with a document that causes your family to spend lots of dollars, even the entire value of your estate, in litigation to fight over what you really meant when you wrote that you wanted your things to go to ‘your bloodline’.   This is one good example of why it is important to go to an Estate Planning professional instead of trying a ‘do it yourself’ plan that you find in the store, on software, or on the internet.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Can I terminate my child’s father’s parental rights?

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

I get this question fairly often.  It is usually from a mother who also says that the father has no contact with the child at all and he hasn’t paid any child support.  Often, there is a comment that the father is in jail for some reason or another, and perhaps there is an order of protection for both the mother and child to keep the father away.

I’m not entirely sure why they want the father’s parental rights terminated.  If the father is not in the picture at all, then he is not a problem to either the mother or the child.

If the mother wants to make sure that she is the only one making any decisions for the child, she can always file for full legal and physical custody with no visitation, or very limited, or only supervised visitation from the father allowed.  If the father is really as absent as the mother says, he is not likely to argue against her and it is likely that the court will award her full custody.  If the father is actually in the picture, but a detriment to the child, then the court may order only supervised or no visitation with the child.

If the father objects to the full custody being given to the mother, he can argue that in court and the court will make a determination based on the best interests of the child.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is interested in doing what is best for the child, not supporting one side in an argument between the parents.

Also, so long as the father is the legal father, the mother can be awarded child support which must be paid by the father.  If the father does not pay his court ordered child support, he might be put in jail for that failure.  Again, not really a problem for a mother who apparently does not even like her child’s father.

If the mother is married to someone who is not the child’s father and she wants to have her new husband adopt the child, a step-parent adoption process can be followed which will end up as a sort of termination of the father’s parental rights when the father agrees to the adoption, or if the adoption is approved without the father’s consent.

There is also the situation where the mother wants to terminate a father’s parental rights because the mother is receiving social services and they have told her that they will go to court to have the father ordered to repay the public funds as child support.  The mother wants to receive the funds, but she does not want the father to have to pay.   And yes, sometimes the father is living in the home with the mother and the children.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has determined that it is the obligation of both parents to provide for their children.

So the short answer to the question of whether you can terminate your child’s father’s parental rights is generally ‘no’.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Who Gets Custody of the Children — Take 2

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Some time ago I wrote a blog post on Who Gets Custody of the Children and the information there is still valid.

But that post assumed that the children were born during a marriage that was ending in divorce, which is not always true.  More and more children are being born into ‘relationships’ that do not have the benefit of a marriage ceremony.   And often these children have siblings with different fathers or mothers and the child may be very close to a step-parent.  And often the children are actually living with grandparents, or other relatives, who have taken over the parenting role.

What happens in these complicated situations?

The basic rule of  doing what is in the best interest of the child still stands, but there are some additional hurdles that must be considered.  First of all, there is a presumption in Virginia that being with the natural parents is in the best interest of the child. If someone other than a natural, biological parent wants to have custody of the child, they must first prove that the bias for the natural parent is wrong in this case.  Generally this means that the other person must prove that it would be harmful for the natural parent to be granted custody.

This often puts the entire family at odds with each other as Grandma goes into court and says that her own child is not a fit mother or father for the grandchild.  Often, there is evidence of drug abuse or other activity that the courts use to determine that the child really is better off with Grandma and Grandma is granted custody.

Or it might be that the biological parents are really too young to be able to take care of the child and they willingly give up custody to Grandma who might be in her late 30s or early 40s and is more established.  Grandma is also still at an age when she could have more children of her own and she is looking forward to being a mother again.

Fast forward a few years and now one or both of the biological parents are finishing school and getting on their feet and they now want to take over the parenting role for their child.

The courts will look at all of the evidence about the lifestyle of all of the parties, and at the relationship that the child has with each of them.  The judge will still make the decision based on what is in the best interest of the child given all of the facts surrounding this particular case.

If the biological parents have had little contact with the child, the courts might order that the primary custody stay with the grandparent for a time and the biological parents be given increasing visitation so that the child can form a relationship with the parent with a goal of moving custody to the parent in the future.

If the biological parents have had a lot of contact with the child and there is already a bond between the parent and child, the courts are more likely to grant custody to the parent and the grandparents will then become what they were meant to be….grandparents.

Based on what I said before, the grandparents with custody might decide that the best path for them to take is to keep the child from visiting with their biological parents and that way they can keep custody.  But remember #6 in the factors to be considered when determining custody.  The courts will not look kindly on any custodian who keeps the child away from the biological parents without a really good reason, and that in itself might be enough for the courts to decide that custody must be taken from Grandma and given to the biological parent.

Also, as I mentioned last week, relocation may be a problem.  As I said before, the courts cannot keep YOU from leaving the area, but the courts may be able to stop you from taking the child with you.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Can I move my child to another state?

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

I often get calls from people who want to move to another state and want to know if it’s ok to take their children.

Like most things in law, the answer is ‘it depends’.

In Virginia, if there is any sort of court ordered custody arrangement, you must notify the court and the other parent at least 30 days in advance of when you plan to move.  Why?  So the other parent has a chance to bring this up with the court before you and the child relocate.  Will the court stop you from moving?  It depends on the reasons for the relocation and the ties that the child has to family in his/her current location.  Of course the court can not stop YOU from moving, but they may order that the child not be allowed to move with you.

What if you take the child anyway?  Can the court order you to bring the child back?  The answer is ‘yes’, and if you take the child against the court’s orders this is called kidnapping and it is not something that you should take lightly.

Also, the court order means you need to notify the other parent and the court prior to any move, not just a move to another state.  You also need to notify the court and the other parent if you just move to another town, across town, or even just move next door.

What if you don’t have any sort of court ordered custody?  In that case, either ‘legal’ parent may move and take the child with them.  Which brings up the next question, who is a ‘legal’ parent?

Generally, if the woman is married at the time of birth, her husband is presumed to be the father of the child, and he will be the ‘legal’ father even if everyone knows he is not the biological father.  In order to have this changed, you must go to court to get  paternity established so that another man can become the ‘legal’ father.

In the case of adoption, the court can name a legal mother and/or a legal father who is not related to the child biologically.

If you are a legal parent of the child and there is no court order regarding the custody of that child, then the answer to the question about a move is ‘yes’, you can move your child to another state even if this means moving the child away from the other legal parent.

If you think this might be a problem for you, then you might want to consider getting a court order to establish a custody arrangement.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at