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West Virginia Court Records

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What is Child Support and When does it Occur in West Virginia?

Natural and adoptive parents have a duty to support and ensure the well-being of their wards in West Virginia. When this support is in the form of court-ordered periodic payments for a child’s maintenance, West Virginia law calls it child support. In the state, two agencies are primarily responsible for the issuance, enforcement, and collection of child support. The Family Courts decide support awards/amounts while the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) helps families impose these orders and collect support payments.

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What is West Virginia Child Support?

Within the West Virginia Code, Chapter 48 (Domestic Relations) outlines the rules and guidelines for establishing and implementing child support in the state. According to these laws, child support is the specific amount that the court orders parents to regularly pay for the upkeep of their children. The parent who pays support is called the obligor (or non-custodial parent) while the parent who receives support is the obligee (or custodial parent). In shared parenting cases, support payments are divided between the two parents, according to their income.

Other than a custodial parent, WV Code §48–14–101 and §48–14–102 establish persons who may obtain a support order and when action may be brought to the court. Persons who may bring support actions in West Virginia include the child’s primary caretaker, the guardian of the child’s property or committee for the child, and the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement. The BCSE can obtain support on behalf of the state or a family. Any of these persons may request child support from a Family Court judge when:

  • The child has an obligor
  • The obligor does not support the child
  • There is no current child support order
  • There is no pending divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance action where there is an issue of support

Typically, a child support order is entered for a child who has not reached 18 years. However, per WV Code §48–11–103, child support will continue past the age of 18 if the child is not married, living with a parent, custodian, or guardian, and attending high school or a vocational program full-time to obtain a diploma. There is a limitation though: this support payment cannot continue when the child becomes 20 years old. Child support payments may also continue beyond the 18-year limit if the child is disabled or handicapped, or if the order was entered in another state and subject to different laws.

What Does Child Support Cover in West Virginia?

Any child support ordered in West Virginia will sufficiently cover the basic needs of a child such as food, shelter, education, clothing, childcare, and healthcare (WV Code §48–11–101),, as well as any other extraordinary expenses approved by the court or agreed to by the parents.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in West Virginia?

The West Virginia Family Courts compute child support amounts according to the formula established in WV Code §§ 48–13–301 to 48–13–603. With this formula, child support is calculated using factors such as:

  • The gross monthly income of the parents (wages, commissions, tips, social security benefits, interest from assets, and other earned/unearned income described in WV Code § 48–1–228). Where income cannot be determined, the court presumes that the obligor earns the Federal minimum wage and works 30 hours weekly.
  • Related expenses
  • The number of children
  • The total time each child spends with a parent, and more.

Because these factors vary on a case-to-case basis, the average child support payable in West Virginia varies as well.

How do I apply for Child Support in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, individuals with physical custody of a child can petition the Family Court to enter a support order, or apply for child support through the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement (BCSE). To request child support from the court, complete the Petition for Support form and file it with the Clerk of Court. This form, as well as instructions for submission, can be found on the Family Court Forms page.

The BCSE assists families in obtaining child support in West Virginia. The agency also provides other child support services such as enforcing, reviewing, and modifying the child support order, collecting support payments, finding parents, case management, and more. Interested persons can apply for child support using the BCSE online application tool (WV PATH) or by submitting an application in paper form to a local BCSE office. Persons who prefer to use WV PATH must have a social security number and email address. If not, complete, sign, and submit the BSCE Standard Application Form (Spanish version) to a local office. Applicants will be expected to provide their details (name, address, employer’s information, income, attorney’s information, etc.), as well as the non-custodial parent’s details. Other documents such as a child’s birth certificate and court orders (divorce decree, paternity, separation agreement, etc.) may also be required.

To obtain more information on the BCSE application processes and case processing timelines, individual may query their county offices or the Customer Service Unit at (800) 249–3778.

Per WV Code §48–11–102, the information contained in a child support order includes the custodian’s name, support award, frequency of payments, the address to send payments, due-date of the first payment, events that will prompt the order’s termination, wage withholding and medical provisions, a statement that all income changes should be reported, and a notice that the support amount can be modified upon a change in circumstances.

How do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in West Virginia?

West Virginia law does not exempt any parent or caretaker from paying child support. Under WV Code §§ 48–11–105through 48–11–108, however, individuals or their lawyers may petition the court to change a support order for a financial or other legitimate reason. This modification can also be requested through the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement. To request a review from the BCSE, contact the local BCSE office. If the support order was issued less than three years ago, the requester may need to show a significant change in circumstances.

For petitions made to the court, obligors or obligees must complete, sign, and file the Petition for Modification form with the Clerk of Court. The following forms must be filed as well: Certificate of Service, BCSE Application and Income Withholding, Financial Disclosure, and Civil Case Information Statement. These forms can be downloaded from the Family Court Forms page (instructions on filing these forms are provided as well).

Individuals may also file a Petition for Expedited Modification of Child Support under WV Code §48–11–106. The court may expedite a modification of child support if there is a material change in circumstance of either parent such as an increase or decrease in income, change in employment status, or if a military parent is called to service. In determining adjustments to a child support order, the court considers medical insurance costs, childcare expenses, the child’s special needs, the child’s age, and other associated factors.

What is Back Child Support in West Virginia?

Per WV Code §48–1–204, back child support, also known as past due support or arrearages, is the amount of child support payments that is owed by the obligor or non-custodial parent, plus accumulated interest (5% per annum).

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in West Virginia?

Obligors who fail to pay child support when it is due may have the West Virginia Courts and Bureau for Child Support Enforcement compel payment in several ways. Obligees can request/petition these agencies to obtain unpaid child support. Some sanctions that are used to collect arrearages include:

  • Credit reporting
  • Seizure of Federal and State income tax refunds
  • Passport denial (when the amount in default exceeds $2,500)
  • Contempt of court proceedings, which can lead to a jail sentence
  • Suspension or denial of the obligor’s professional, recreational, or driver licenses
  • Liens against the obligor’s real or personal property to prevent sale of the property
  • Prosecution for criminal non-support under WV Code 61–5–29. Persons who are convicted may be fined, sentenced to jail/prison, or both

Is there a West Virginia Statute of Limitation on Child Support?

Yes, Wast Virginia law limits the collection of back child support/arrearages to 10 years. For support orders entered after June 7, 2008 and when there is more than one child for whom support is ordered, it is 10 years from the youngest child’s emancipation (WV Code 38–3–18)..

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