West Virginia Child Support Laws and FAQs

An overview of West Virginia child support laws with answers to your most pressing questions.

Here’s what you should know when working through a child support issue in West Virginia.

Who Must Pay Child Support in West Virginia?

Both parents are required by West Virginia law to support their children.  When parents separate or get divorced, that obligation still continues.

The court will require a parent to pay child support in the form of periodic installments for the maintenance of the minor children based on statewide Child Support Guidelines.

How is Child Support Determined in West Virginia?

West Virginia uses the Income Shares Support Formula as part of the West Virginia Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of child support.

This method includes the impact of several factors, including:

  • The gross incomes of each parent
  • The number of children eligible for support
  • The amount of time the child(ren) spends with each parent
  • The specific expenses involved in raising the child(ren)
  • Other children of both parents
  • Any other extenuating circumstances.

To start a case, BCSE sends both parents a financial form to gather information about these factors. Parents should answer all the questions and return the form as soon as possible, or BCSE will decide based on information obtained from other sources.

After the information is gathered, BCSE will use worksheets to calculate an appropriate base amount.  BCSE will use one of two worksheets depending on the amount of shared parenting.

Parents are required to use these worksheets, even if both parents settle on a child support amount between themselves.

Basic Shared Parenting Worksheet – Also known as Worksheet A, this is used in a standard “shared parenting” arrangement, where one parent has the child for less than 35% of the year or 127 days.  You also use this worksheet in cases of “split custody.” Split custody means the parents have two or more children, and each parent has primary custody of at least one of them.

Extended Shared Parenting Worksheet – This is used in an “extended shared parent custody” arrangement when each parent has a child for more than 35% of the year.

You can find the basic child support schedule here. (West Virginia Code §48-13-301.)

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Which Agency Handles Child Support in West Virginia?

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau for Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) handles child support matters in the state.

The BCSE promotes and enhances the social, emotional, and financial bonds between children and their parents by establishing and enforcing paternity, child support and medical support orders.  This includes locating parents, collecting and enforcing payments, and establishing modifications to a child support order.

BCSE and its role are defined by West Virginia Code §§ 48-18-101, et seq.  Many of the Bureau’s responsibilities that are required by state law permit the Bureau to comply with federal law mandates instituted by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act in 1975.

Per state and federal law, BCSE cannot provide advice or representation on custody and visitation matters.

Although the BCSE is directed by statute to pursue the child’s best interests in a paternity action, it does not represent the child but rather the state’s interest in the child’s well-being.  The “state” may be West Virginia or another state involved in a child support case.

BCSE has several local offices throughout West Virginia.  There are 55 West Virginia counties, and full-time offices serve 35. The others are served part-time from a larger office.

To contact a local office, go here.

Most child support orders call for payments through income withholding. An employer will withhold the amount of child support from a parent’s paycheck and forward it to BCSE for dispersal.

If the court orders the BCSE not to collect through income withholding, parents can mail a check or money or pay by credit card or e-check.

If you receive child support, you can opt to have the BCSE direct deposit your support payment into your bank account or BCSE will issue a parent a debit card, and will apply the paid support amount to that card each month.

How Do I Ask for Child Support?

The quickest and easiest way to apply for child support services is online.

To use the Online Application, you will be redirected to the PATH portal. You are required to create a username and password on the PATH portal.  To create a new account, click on Create Optum GovID. To use this online application you must have a Social Security number.  Please download and complete the paper application if you do not have a Social Security Number.

If you need help using WV PATH, customer service is available to assist you at 1-844-451-3515.

You can also submit a Paper Application if you do not have an email address or access to a computer.  Complete the application, read your Rights and Responsibilities, and then sign and date the application.  Give your application to the nearest Child Support Office.

If you have questions, contact your local office or BCSE Customer Service Unit at 1-800-249-3778.

The application is also available in Espanol.

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Factors that May Impact Child Support in West Virginia

There are several possible variables that a court will consider before adjusting payments up or down from a basic support amount.  Some of these include:

  • the child or the paying parent’s special needs
  • the child or the parent’s educational expenses
  • families with more than six children
  • long-distance visitation costs
  • whether the child lives with someone besides a parent
  • whether the parent pays child support for another child
  • whether the paying parent has consistent income
  • whether the total of spousal support, child support, and child care costs leaves the paying parent below the federal poverty level

If a court finds that a parent isn’t earning to capacity, it can impute income to that parent. The court will use several factors to calculate what a parent should earn and base that parent’s child support obligation on the imputed amount.  In deciding, the court will decide whether parents:

  • Voluntarily left employment or altered their employment pattern to be unemployed, underemployed, or employed below full earning capacity
  • can work and are available for full-time work for which they are fitted by prior training or experience
  • aren’t seeking employment in the manner that a reasonably prudent person in their circumstances would make

Support payments can be modified when a military parent is called to active service. Either parent can file a notice of activation of military service and a request for an expedited modification of a child support order. The court can temporarily modify the amount of child support for the duration of the military parent’s military service if a sufficient change is proven.  Either parent must notify BCSE within 90 days of the military parent’s release from service.

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Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?

Child support orders include the direction to provide health insurance coverage for a child.

The court will also make provisions for any unreimbursed child health care expenses, work-related child care expenses, and any other extraordinary expenses agreed to by the parents or ordered by the court. These costs usually are pro-rated between the parents, based on income.

Extraordinary medical expenses are generally illnesses, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.  This is a mandatory deduction for basic child support. Suppose the non-custodial parent pays child care costs. In that case, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner is deducted from the noncustodial partner’s monthly child support payment.

Due to the high child care costs, West Virginia also has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child to calculate child support payments.  Childcare costs are also considered a mandatory deduction and treated the same way as well.

Establishing Paternity in West Virginia

Paternity needs to be established if a child is conceived or born out of wedlock or conceived or born ten months before divorce or separation.  BCSE can help parents complete a Declaration of Paternity Affidavit that allows unmarried parents to voluntarily establish paternity for their child without going through a court.  If there are questions about who the father is, DNA genetic testing can be ordered or taken voluntarily to determine if a man is the child’s father.

Enforcing West Virginia Child Support Orders

When a parent is delinquent in paying child support, the BCSE has several methods to enforce payment. Some of those methods are:

  • Credit bureau reporting when the arrearage is at least $1000 and past due for at least two months.
  • Requesting the IRS and State Treasurer to seize federal and state income tax refunds
  • Filing a contempt motion with the court for failure to pay child support, which could result in incarceration
  • Passport denial
  • Seizing lottery and lump sum benefits
  • Suspending or denying a driver’s license and professional and recreational licenses such as hunting and fishing licenses, contractors’ licenses, and real estate brokers’ licenses
  • Placing a lien on real estate and personal property, attaching the assets so that a delinquent parent can’t sell the property without paying the child support.  An administrative lien is filed with an Affidavit of Accrued Support.
  • Prosecuting a parent for criminal non-support

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Modifying West Virginia Child Support Payments

According to West Virginia statute §48-11-105:

The court may modify a child support order for the benefit of the child when a motion is made that alleges a change in the circumstances of a parent or another proper person or persons. A motion for modification of a child support order may be brought by a custodial parent or any other lawful custodian or guardian of the child, by a parent or other person obligated to pay child support for the child, or by the BCSE.

The order’s provisions may be modified if a substantial change in circumstances results in a new child support order that is more than 15% different.

An expedited modification of a child support order may be utilized if:

  • Either parent experiences a substantial change of circumstances resulting in a decrease in income due to loss of employment or other involuntary cause
  • An increase in income due to promotion, change in employment or reemployment
  • Other such change in employment status
  • If a military parent is called to military service

Child Support and Taxes

Child support payments are not deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.

However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.

Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. Parents can alternate years claiming the child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a similar statement.

When Does Child Support End in West Virginia?

Child support in West Virginia typically ends when a child turns 18, but there are exceptions.

State law allows support to be paid beyond the age of majority if the child has a physical or mental disability or is enrolled as a full-time student in a secondary educational or vocational program and making substantial progress towards a diploma.  In this case, payments may not extend past 20 years old.

Emancipation automatically occurs when the child marries or when a court declares the child emancipated.

Although the circumstances for terminating child support may exist, a parent is still responsible for paying any past due child support amounts.

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