Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Child Support Lawyers
During divorce proceedings or upon the termination of relationships, parents are often faced with the issue of child support. Biological parents have a financial and legal obligation to support their children, whether or not they have custody or visitation rights.
Regardless of your custody situation, you are most likely dealing in some way with child support. Child support is a complex area of law and is more involved than simply entering figures into a formula. While the amount payable is governed by state law, a variety of factors are considered when coming up with this figure.
The Washington, D.C. based child support attorneys at Gowen Silva & Winograd PLLC understand the latest statutes and cases so that we can represent you appropriately and minimize the stress to you and your children. If you have a child support issue in the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia (DMV) contact our office now to learn more about how we can protect your rights.
Supporting Your Child Financially
After divorce or separation, parents can voluntarily resolve child support issues through mutual agreement. Even an amicable settlement should be formalized by a court order so that there is a way to enforce the terms.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to agree on matters involving money and the financial security of your children. When this happens, the courts will step in and do it for you. The Federal Family Support Act of 1988 mandates that every U.S. state create numerical child support guidelines. These guides must also follow the requirement that the resulting figures are neither inappropriate nor unjust.
The guidelines have several goals. First, they are meant to ensure that the needs of minor children are fully met. Next, they are supposed to address the problem of inconsistent criteria used by judges to draft awards.
Child Support Payments
The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia each have their own guidelines for establishing the amount of child support payable. They all consider factors such as:
- Income for both parents
- Health insurance
- Childcare costs
- Extraordinary medical expenses
- Existing child support obligations of the non-custodial parent
DC Code Section 16-916.01 governs child support guidelines in the District of Columbia. A number of factors are considered, such as the percentage of time children live with each parent and the number of children requiring support.
The guidelines use the Income Shares Model, assuming that each parent is responsible for a portion of the child’s total support needs equal to their same percentage of income share. In other words, if one parent’s income equals 70% of the total household income, then they will also be responsible for 70% of the total child support needs.
While the court does apply a formula, it will go outside the guidelines when presented with other evidence such as fluctuating income, medical problems, or high net worth of the other parent.
Maryland’s law for child support payments was passed in 1990, and its guidelines were updated in 2010. The law creates a matrix that standardizes monthly child support payments, which is used for families whose income does not exceed $180,000 per year.
Maryland also uses the Income Shares Model. There are many other factors considered in Maryland child support calculations, including certain expenses, high-income families, and shared physical custody.
An experienced Maryland family law attorney can explain your rights and resolve these issues on your behalf.
When the Virginia courts determine child support payments, they refer to Virginia Code Section 20-108.2. The law uses a complex matrix that considers the gross income of each parent as well as child support expenses and custody arrangements.
There are provisions for a variety of modifications, and every child support case is unique. With such an important financial and family law matter, you need sound legal advice and representation.
Establishing legal paternity is a prerequisite to the court’s ability to impose a child support order. In general, paternity can be established by:
- Birth certificate
- Voluntary acknowledgment
- DNA/Genetic testing
For example, in D.C., paternity is legally established if you are named on the birth certificate even if evidence later proves that there is no biological or genetic relationship. If a parent is not listed on the birth certificate, it would be prudent to obtain a DNA test to establish paternity.
Child Support Modification and Enforcement
Court orders for child support are based on the facts presented to the court at the time of the agreement. Circumstances change over time, and it may be necessary to request a modification of your court order.
Most family law courts allow you to make this request if there has been a “material change in circumstances” since the date of the original order. Our attorneys can help determine if you qualify and represent you further in this matter.
Failing to comply with a child support order is a serious matter. Consequences for failing to pay or follow other terms can include jail time and other penalties. We can help you hold the other party accountable for failing to follow the terms of the agreement or assist you if you need help modifying an existing order.
Retroactive Child Support
Child support is not always payable from the date of the court order. The court can also order a parent to pay support retroactively when it is deemed appropriate. How this is applied varies by jurisdiction. In D.C., for instance, the court can grant retroactive child support going back 24 months. This can be helpful for one parent and a hardship for the other.
Speak with a Qualified DMV Child Support Attorney
The family law attorneys at Gowen Silva & Winograd PLLC skillfully advocate for the rights of parents and their children in the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia area. We can help you negotiate, mediate, or litigate any family law issue, including the payment of child support.
Since these matters are governed by statute, it’s vital to have a qualified attorney assist you through the process. Our experienced child support lawyers are well-versed in the factors that the courts will consider and will take the steps necessary to promote the best interests of your children and protect your financial well-being.
Contact our office today at 202-408-5400 or reach out to us online to schedule a confidential consultation.