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West Virginia Child Support
Child Support in West Virginia
In West Virginia, either parent may be ordered to make periodic child support payments and provide health insurance coverage for the child.
All relevant factors are considered and the West Virginia Child Support guidelines are followed unless the parents have agreed to a child support amount approved by the courts, or the courts determine the guidelines are unjust for a particular case and deviate from the guidelines. The guidelines are presumed to be correct unless it is shown that the amount is unjust or inappropriate under the particular circumstances of a case.
One of the parents may also be granted exclusive use of the family home and all the goods and furniture necessary to help in the rearing of the children. The court may require health and hospitalization insurance coverage as child support. Provisions for income withholding shall be included in every divorce decree to guarantee the support payments. Child support guidelines are available from the West Virginia Child Advocate Office and are in the state statutes. Child support is described in the West Virginia Code; Sections 48-13-301 and 48-13-702.
West Virginia uses the Income Shares Model to determine the amount of child support the noncustodial parent must pay. The Income Shares Model estimates the amount of support that would have been available if the marriage had not failed. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parent's income. This is easy to do using the West Virginia child support worksheet. Pay records typically substantiate the estimated incomes.
This routine takes into account both parents' gross income and applies a percentage to it based on the number of minor children they have together. The court takes the combined income of both parents and works out the proportion each contributes. That figure is then divided proportionately based on each parent's ability to pay and which parent has primary custody.
If the noncustodial parent has a higher income than the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the greater portion of the child support obligation; conversely, if the noncustodial parent has a lower income than the custodial, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the smaller portion of the child support obligation.
Child support court orders such as wage garnishment orders or divorce decrees must accompany child support applications.
Employers are required to submit new-hire reports to BCSE. All support payments that are collected by garnishment by employers from the noncustodial parent are to be forwarded electronically to BCSE.
West Virginia ensures that children on child support receive medical coverage with the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN). Courts may require that parents listed on the West Virginia child support system maintain medical insurance coverage for dependent children.
Other Expenses and Deductions
Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive. Childcare and extraordinary medical expenses are considered mandatory deductions. Private school tuition is a permissive add-on.
Child Support Enforcement
In West Virginia, every divorce decree involving children provides for the withholding of child support. The payments are withheld like income tax is withheld. This generally makes the paying and receiving of child support easier for both parties. Once the support is withheld, it is sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments, and is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.
If a noncustodial parent can show that he or she is providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependants not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50 percent of their disposable income can be attached if the obligor cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders. That number increases to 55 percent if the noncustodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependants under the current order, and 65 percent for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.
The West Virginia Bureau for Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) provides services for custodial and noncustodial parents to help establish paternity and ensure that minor children receive the financial and medical support that they need. Custodial parents, whether they divorced or never married the child's noncustodial parent, are eligible to apply to receive child support in West Virginia.
A noncustodial parent who fails to pay child support may find his or her state and federal income tax refunds intercepted. The deadbeat parent also faces garnishment of his or her paycheck, with interest charges for late payments. Delinquent parents may qualify for West Virginia's amnesty program and should contact the BSCE. Under this program, standard payments must still be made.
Other enforcement measures include:
West Virginia provides for interest to be charged on late child support payments, retroactive support, and adjudicated arrears at a rate of 10% simple interest.
More information about West Virginia Child Support Enforcement can be found at their website.
Generally, West Virginia child support ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, is removed from disability status by a court order, or he or she dies.
Upon finding good cause, a court may order that child support payments continue beyond the age of 18 if the child is unmarried, residing with a parent and is enrolled as a full-time student in a secondary or vocational program and making substantial progress towards a diploma. In this case, payments will not extend past the date that the child reaches the age of 20. In some situations, child support may be extended if the child is handicapped.
The guidelines do not take into account the economic impact of the following considerations that may be reasons for deviation:
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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