Establishing Paternity & Child Support

Steps to Establish Paternity & Child Support


Once a petition has been filed with the Clerk's Office and a hearing date set, the parties will be served with a copy of a summons, the petition and income information sheet, which must be completed and brought on Court day.

On the hearing date, the parties will meet with a DCSE representative to complete the support guidelines. This hearing is scheduled for 10 minutes. The parties must notify the Court in advance if they feel the case will take longer than 10 minutes. If paternity has not already been established, the respondent needs to tell the Court whether he acknowledges paternity or whether he wishes to have paternity testing.


DCSE Cases


If the parties have a case with DCSE, that office (DCSE) will initially pay for the paternity test. If he is excluded, he will not have to pay for the test. However, if the man is found to be the father, he will be required to reimburse DCSE (approximate costs $39.50 per person, $118.50 total). A typical test trio consist of the alleged father, mother, and child.

Parties who do not have cases through DCSE can be required to undergo testing that is arranged by the Court. Approximate costs $70 per person, $210 total. The Court MAY require the petitioner to pay the Court for the costs of the test.

Once paternity is established, the Court will send a copy of the paternity order to the Bureau of Vital Records. Once an order of support is entered, the Court can order that payments be made directly to DCSE or by wage withholding through DCSE. The Court can also require health care coverage for the minor child.

Definition of Income


Income is defined in the Code of Virginia as income from all sources and shall include, but not be limited to income from:
  • Annuities
  • Awards
  • Bonuses
  • Capital gains
  • Commissions
  • Disability insurance benefits
  • Dividends
  • Gifts
  • Interest
  • Pensions
  • Prizes
  • Rental income
  • Royalties
  • Salaries
  • Severance pay
  • Social security benefits
  • Spousal support
  • Trust income
  • Unemployment insurance benefits
  • Veterans benefits
  • Wages
  • Worker's compensation benefits

After the Order is Issued


After the Support Order is issued you may have to go back to Court if one of two things occurs:
  • A motion to amend is filed. This would be filed for some type of modification of the current order (increase, decrease, change in insurance, etc). The person who is filing the motion will have the responsibility to prove to the Court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the Order.
  • One party is not complying with the order (support not being paid, insurance not in effect, etc.). In such case, the person alleged to not be complying would be required to show cause why he/she should not be found in contempt of Court.
If payments are being made through the DCSE, either party may contact their office to file motions or motions for show cause on their behalf. If the payments are direct pay, the motions would be filed with the Clerk's Office.


Checking on Your Case


Check you child support case online