How to Calculate Child Support Payments in West Virginia

Learn how to calculate child support in West Virginia, when the amount of support may be different than what’s calculated under the state’s guidelines, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , Legal Editor

Like all U.S. states, West Virginia has child support guidelines meant to give parents and judges consistent rules for deciding on the right amount of child support. But unlike many other states, West Virginia doesn't provide an official, online calculator that you can use to get a quick estimate of how much child support would apply in your case. As we'll explain below, you'll need to use one of the state's worksheets to learn how much support you'll probably pay or receive. This will be the same worksheet that you'll submit in your divorce or other child support case.

How to Use West Virginia's Child Support Worksheets

Before choosing and completing the appropriate child support worksheet, you'll need to to have some basic information on hand, including both parents' income and certain expenses (such as the cost of the child's health insurance premium and any extraordinary medical expenses, as well as how much you pay for work-related child care).

You'll also need to know what your physical custody (parenting time) arrangements will be. That's because West Virginia has separate worksheets for:

  • sole custody or basic shared parenting—when one parent has the child or children overnight for less than 35% (or 127 overnights) in the year (use Worksheet A)
  • extended shared parenting—when both parents have the child for at least 35% of the year, and both contribute to the child's expenses in addition to child support (use Worksheet B), and
  • split custody—when each parent has physical custody of at least one of their children (use Worksheet A along with the split custody adjustment).

When you follow the links to these forms, scroll down to the icons at the bottom to download a PDF or Word version of the worksheet, which you can then print, complete and submit to the court.

Once you've entered your financial information on the appropriate worksheet, you'll need to refer to West Virginia's table of basic monthly child support obligations to find the amount you'll enter for "basic obligation." The worksheet will then walk you through adjustments to that amount.

If you're still negotiating your custody arrangements, you might try calculations under the potential options to see what difference they would make.

When Child Support May Be Different Than the Guideline Calculation

West Virginia presumes that the amount calculated under the guidelines is appropriate, but you may argue that a different amount would be better in your situation. Whether you and the child's other parent have agreed on a support amount that departs from the guideline or a judge decides for you, the judge will have to find that using the amount calculated under the guidelines would be inappropriate in your particular case. (W. Va. Code § 48-13-702 (2024).)

Learn more about how child support works in Georgia, including some of the reasons judges may deviate from the standard guideline calculation and what gets counted as income when calculating support.

How to Apply for Child Support in West Virginia

Typically, you'll apply for child support as part of the process of filing for divorce in West Virginia. You'll include your completed child support worksheets along with the rest of your divorce papers.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you can get help with requesting support by applying for child support services from the West Virginia Bureau for Child Support Enforcement (BCSE). The agency may also help with establishing paternity and locating absent parents, when that's necessary.

How to Collect Child Support in West Virginia

Usually, child support is paid through income withholding. That way, the support amounts are taken out of the paychecks of the parent who's paying support (usually the parent who doesn't have physical custody most of the time). Withholding may also be used for some other income sources, like workers' compensation or unemployment benefits. When income withholding isn't appropriate (such as when a parent is self-employed), parents will send the payments directly to the West Virginia BCSE, which will then forward the money to the recipient parent.

If you're having trouble collecting child support, the BCSE can also help enforce the support order. Depending on how much the other parent owes, the agency has several ways of enforcing child support, including:

  • reporting the debt to credit bureaus
  • intercepting income tax refunds
  • seizing money from bank accounts
  • placing liens on property (so the delinquent parent can't sell it or borrow money before paying off the debt), and
  • having a delinquent parent's driver's or other licenses suspended.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

Either parent may request a modification in the amount of child support. Generally, you'll need to prove that there's been a substantial change in circumstances that wasn't anticipated when the existing order was issued, and that the modification is necessary for the child's welfare. Under West Virginia law, however, the judge will consider that it's a substantial change in circumstances if a new calculation (using the parents' current financial circumstances and the current guidelines) results in a support amount that's more than 15% higher or lower than the current amount. (W. Va. Code § 48-11-105 (2024); Thompson v. Thompson, 430 S.E.2d 336 (W. Va. 1993).)

Every three years, either parent may ask the West Virginia BCSE to review their existing child support order to see if a modification is adjustment is warranted. If it's been less than three years since your order was issued or last reviewed, the agency will conduct a review only if there's been a substantial change of circumstances. Depending on the results of the review, the BCSE may file a modification motion with the court. (W. Va. Code § 48-18-126 (2024);

You also may also file a motion (written request) for a modification directly with the court. That might be a quicker option. But without the BCSE's assistance, you should consider speaking with a family lawyer.

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