No Help for the Costs of Pregnancy and Birth.
One of the significant gaps in Virginia’s child support laws has been the mother’s inability to get help from the father in covering the costs arising out of the pregnancy and birth of the child. In the past attorneys at Robert L. Isaacs have had some success recovering these costs in divorce negotiations, but this was an awkward solution and possible only to mothers who were married to the father.
New Law Fills the Gap.
Luckily in March the General Assembly resolved this problem. Effective July 1, 2020, the code section that controls child support (Va. Code §20-108.2) will be amended to allow a court to order a father to contribute towards the unpaid costs arising out her pregnancy and the costs of delivery. These costs will be divided in proportion to the incomes of the parents. So, if the father earns $100,000.00 per annum and mother earns $50,0000.00 the father would pay 66% of all unpaid expenses and mother 33%.
Limits on What a Mother Can Recover.
How exactly this new law will be implemented depends upon the way in which judges interpret it. Not all judges, nor all courts will interpret this law the same.
A few limitations are clearly set out.
- To recover these costs a mother must file for support within six months of giving birth.
- The mother can only recover for pregnancy and delivery costs which are unpaid.
- The expenses must be “reasonable and necessary”. Again, this will limit recovery to medical costs which if recommended by a doctor are typically reasonable and necessary. Other costs such as the cost of a doula or labor coach may not be recoverable.
- The division of payment shall be in proportion to the incomes used to caluclate child support.
Proving these costs will require a fair amount of documentary evidence. The attorneys at Robert L. Isaacs work hard with clients to collect financial documents and then present them to the court in a way which is easy for the judge to understand.
Thoughts for Father
The new law will have an impact on fathers ordered to pay child support. Perhaps the biggest will be the initial arrearage that they ordered to pay off. Child support is retroactive to the date of filing. For example, if mother files for support in January, and in June the court orders the father to pay support of $500.0 a month then father immediately owes $3,000.00 to mother for the support he should have paid between January and June. Now, a father may find that they owe not only past child support but considerable medical costs.
The cost of childcare already makes the first years of child support a tough financial burden. This will make the initial order even tougher. The attorneys at Robert L. Isaacs work hard with fathers in similar positions to prepare them for their potential exposure on child support, verify the numbers a mother presents, and negotiate a child support order which a father can meet.
If you have a child support matter that you would like assistance with schedule your consult with one of our attorneys today.