Having a child is a major commitment to both the new person created and to the child’s other parent. Parents have an obligation to provide for a child’s basic needs until they become adults. If the relationship between parents changes while the child is still a minor, there can be challenges ahead. Both parents will now likely need to manage those obligations across two households.
Child support is one of the ways that the state helps to ensure that children from every family situation have the resources they need to thrive. The Virginia family courts can order both divorcing and unmarried parents to pay child support when parents separate.
Age and education influence payments
How long the parent paying will send payments depends on the child’s academic success and age when they begin school. In Virginia, child support can last until a child turns 19 or graduates high school, whichever occurs first. Typically, this does mean that even if a child intends to go on to college, child support will end before they start their coursework. The Virginia family courts will not force one parent to provide child support through the college years. However, parents can negotiate and arrangement in which they share the cost of college tuition and other educational expenses so that student has every opportunity in life.
What if one parent can no longer pay?
Sometimes, the parent ordered to help support the child through regular payments loses their job or experiences some other kind of hardship that negatively influences their ability to keep making payments even though the child is not yet 18 or ready to finish school. In such scenarios, a parent can sometimes ask for a modification or reduction in child support obligations, although the courts will typically not eliminate child support even if someone has lost their only source of income.
Given that support is often a major point of contention during a divorce, it often benefits those who are preparing for a co-parenting situation to learn more about how Virginia handles child support matters. Seeking legal guidance to better understand the rules that govern child support payments, including how long payments last, may help people have realistic expectations and minimize how much they’ll opt to fight over financial responsibility for their children.