Experienced Northern Virginia Child Support Attorneys
Serving All of Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Arlington County and Alexandria City
Child support issues can arise both within divorce cases as well as between unmarried couples. Child support is governed by guidelines prescribed by the Virginia Code, but there are deviating factors which can be used to increase or decrease this prescribed amount of support. Our attorneys can advise you as to the prescribed amount and if there are reasons to deviate from the prescribed amount. Child support may be litigated within a divorce case in the Circuit Court when the parents are married to each other. Child support can also be litigated in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court regardless if the parents are married to each other. Our attorneys can assist in determining which Virginia court has jurisdiction over your case.
If you are considering filing a child support action, timing is extremely important. Child support can only be collected retroactively to the date that an action is filed in court and due diligence is exercised to serve the other parent with the child support petition. Even if two parties hope not to engage in litigation and are likely to settle, it is sometimes advantageous to file a case early in the separation to secure retroactivity. We can advise you whether your situation would benefit from an early filing or whether it would be strategically advantageous to wait to file.
One of the most common questions asked by clients going through child support litigation is what to do if they have been a stay-at-home mother or stay-at-home father or if the other parent has not worked in a long time due to taking on parenting or other responsibilities. Families make decisions when they are intact, but these decisions may not be financially sustainable once the parents separate. The decision to have one parent stay at home often results in uncertainty for both parties when it comes to child support litigation.
Courts have the ability to impute income to a parent under appropriate circumstances if they are not reasonably employed. This means that a court can assign a reasonable income to someone who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. The child support attorneys at Hirsch & Ehlenberger have litigated imputation of income issues throughout Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Arlington County and Alexandria City. Our attorneys have litigated both sides of the issue and are familiar with how to fight against an improper imputation as well as how to advocate for an appropriate imputation when a party is able to work but refuses to do so without legitimate reason. Our attorneys have relationships with vocational rehabilitation experts in Northern Virginia who can provide testimony regarding imputation of income.
In Northern Virginia, there are many people who are business owners or self-employed. When income is not shown on a W-2 or 1099, it can be difficult to determine what a party’s true gross income is for purposes of determining child support. We work with experts, including forensic accountants and certified public accountants, to determine the actual income of a party. We have also defended against allegations that a party earns far in excess of what they actually do earn, employing experts as needed to demonstrate the actual earnings when the client is a business owner or self-employed.
An adverse ruling in a child support case can have far reaching financial ramifications, and such orders can only be modified upon a showing of a material change in circumstances warranting a modification. Loss of employment is one of the most common reasons for parties to seek a reduction in child support. We also work with clients to get an increase in child support when the client learns the other parent is earning a higher income than when support was last calculated. Additionally, as children age out of work-related child care, modifications are often warranted when the cost of child care was included in the last child support calculation. Modifications are also usually required when a child emancipates and child support needs to be re-calculated for only the remaining children owed a duty of support.
Our attorneys also have extensive experience in litigating child support enforcement actions. When a party does not abide by a child support order, the court can impose serious sanctions including fines and imprisonment. If you are subject to a court order to pay child support, even if you and the other parent have reached an alternate agreement, you need to ensure that it is incorporated into a new court order or you will still be subject to the prior order. This can result in extremely high arrearages being due as well as interest on the arrearage. Our attorneys have regularly litigated enforcement actions, including getting back payments for clients when a parent is not paying their Court Ordered Child Support and assisting parents who have fallen behind in child support to negotiate a settlement to avoid the sanctions that can be imposed by the court when possible.
Child support is a complicated legal area and you should speak with our experienced child support lawyers to discuss your case and get the answers to your questions. Contact our proven child support attorneys in Northern Virginia today for an initial consultation. We vigorously represent clients throughout Fairfax County as well as the surrounding counties, including Loudoun County, Prince William County, Arlington County and Alexandria City.