West Virginia Child Support Guidelines

West Virginia Child Support Guidelines

The WEST VIRGINIA BUREAU OF CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT (BCSE) offers a variety of services to help secure support from the parent(s) of the child. Some of the services available through the WV BCSE are:

– Locating the parent(s)
– Legally establishing paternity
– Establishing child support
– Establishing medical support and/or health insurance coverage
– Collecting support payments
– Enforcing a court order
– Reviewing and modifying the court order

To obtain child support you just complete the BCSE application.  You will need to contact your local DHHR-BCSE office by mail or telephone to schedule an appointment.

Establishing Support Orders

The BCSE assists individuals to collect support payments – both what is due to you now (current support) and what has been due to you (arrearages). The BCSE will ask the court to establish a child support order if none exists.  An order sets a monthly amount of money owed by a parent (obligor) for the support of a child. The amount of support is determined by a formula called the child support guidelines. The BCSE will also try to establish medical support, such as health insurance.

The BCSE can request the court-ordered child support be paid past the age of 18 (but not past the end of the child’s 19th year) if the child stays in high school or attends vocational school (not college).

Establishing Paternity in West Virginia

Paternity in West Virginia is established either when the parents agree that the father is the biological parent of the child and sign documents that say so, or when a court enters an order stating that the father is the biological parent of the child.

Married Parents

When the father and mother of a child are married, paternity is automatically established when the child is born.

Unmarried Parents

When the parents of a child aren’t married, paternity has to be established before the father’s rights and obligations take effect   If a child is born to parents who are not married, the father must be legally identified before child support can be obtained.  Both parents may sign a document stating they are the child’s mother and father to legally establish paternity. This legal document, called a Declaration of Paternity Affidavit, may be obtained and completed at any of the birthing hospitals or birthing centers in West Virginia at the time of the child’s birth.  However, court action will still be necessary to establish an order for child support.

Acknowledging Paternity

West Virginia allows parents to establish paternity when the mother and father sign a “Notarized Affidavit of Paternity.” The notarized affidavit should list both parents’ social security numbers, addresses, and should state that both parents acknowledge paternity. The affidavit should also state that both parents understand the rights and obligations of paternity as well as the alternatives to acknowledging paternity. Once the original notarized affidavit of paternity is filed with the State Registrar, paternity has been established.

Disputed Paternity

West Virginia paternity laws can be used by either a mother or a father to obtain court-ordered paternity DNA testing. In most instances, a mother seeking such an order needs the test results to provide a basis for obtaining a child support order against the father. If the child was born out of wedlock, a man who believes he is the father can also seek such an order to determine paternity.

If one parent won’t acknowledge paternity, you will need to file a “Petition to Establish Paternity” in your county circuit court asking the court establish paternity. You’ll also need to serve the other parent with a copy of your petition; the circuit court clerk can give you options to serve the other parent.

If the other parent still doesn’t agree on paternity, the court will order the child and parents to undergo genetic tests to determine paternity. Once paternity has been established, each parent has to complete a parent education class and file their certificate of completion with the county circuit court clerk.

Any of the following people can file a petition to establish paternity:

  • an unmarried woman who has a child
  • a married woman with a child, if someone besides her husband is the father
  • The West Virginia bureau for child support enforcement
  • any person with physical or legal custody of the child
  • the guardian of the child
  • a guardian ad litem, usually a lawyer appointed on behalf of the child, or
  • a man claiming to be the father of a child born out of wedlock.

To establish paternity in court, the petition has to be filed before the child’s 18th birthday, unless the child files the petition, in which case it can be filed at any time.  The judge can also decide other issues like child support, custody and visitation.

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave is a father’s right in West Virginia. If you are employed and your partner just gave birth, you are allowed one or two weeks of paternity leave. You also may be eligible for such a leave if you decide to adopt a child. The statutory paternity pay to which you are entitled should be the same as the statutory maternity pay. An employer needs to have written notice about an employee’s intention of obtaining paternity leave

West Virginia – Children’s Rights to Paternity

West Virginia allows children to file a petition to establish paternity at any point in their life because the state believes children deserve to know their parents. When paternity is established, the child has the right to be financially and emotionally supported by both parents. The child may be able to get benefits from parents like health insurance, Social Security or veterans’ benefits. A child can inherit from both parents once paternity has been established. Just having access to both parents’ families’ medical history can also greatly benefit a child. A mother benefits when paternity is established by having the father pay financial support for the child. A mother can ask the court to award her past due child support up to 36 months, in addition to birthing or medical costs. A father benefits when paternity is established by getting rights to visitation with the child and the right to have input on decisions that affect the child’s future.

Locating Parents

When a parent who should be paying child support cannot be found, the BCSE will try to find that person. The BCSE has the right to search for obligors by using records such as:

  • driver’s licenses,
  • vehicle registrations,
  • tax records,
  • employment security records (which show whether a person is on any employer’s payroll in WV), and
  • records that show if a person is receiving any public benefits, such as an unemployment check or Worker’s Compensation.

If the obligor cannot be located in WV, the BCSE will search all other appropriate states.

Federal Parent Locate Services

If a parent owing support cannot be found, the BCSE will work with the Federal government to find the obligor through the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), the Veteran’s Administration (VA), the Social Security Administration, New Hire Registry, Federal Case Registry, and the Department of Defense. This service is also used when there is a dispute regarding the child’s custody or to locate a parent suspected of parental kidnapping.

Securing Support From Parents Living in Another State

If a parent who owes child support lives in another state, the BCSE will work with the other state to establish and enforce a support order. Once an out-of-state employer is located, the BCSE will contact the employer to have the support payments automatically withheld from the employee’s pay. The employer will then send the support payment to the BCSE. Once received, the BCSE will forward the support payments to the obligee in West Virginia.


West Virginia Guidelines were established for child support award amounts so as to ensure greater uniformity by those persons who make child support recommendations and enter child support orders and to increase predictability for parents, children and other persons who are directly affected by child support orders.

Right of children to share in parents’ level of living.
Children have a right to share in their natural parents’ level of living. Expenditures in families are not made in accordance with subsistence level standards, but are made in proportion to household income, and as parental incomes increase or decrease, the actual dollar expenditures for children also increase or decrease correspondingly. In order to ensure that children properly share in their parents’ resources, regardless of family structure, these guidelines are structured so as to provide that after a consideration of respective parental incomes, child support will be related, to the extent practicable, to the standard of living that children would enjoy if they were living in a household with both parents present.

Financial contributions of both parents.
The guidelines take into consideration the financial contributions of both parents. The Legislature recognizes that expenditures in households are made in aggregate form and that total family income is pooled to determine the level at which the family can live. These guidelines consider the financial contributions of both parents in relationship to total income, so as to establish and equitably apportion the child support obligation.

Both parents’ income.
A child support order is determined by dividing the total child support obligation between the parents in proportion to their income. Both parents’ adjusted gross income is used to determine the amount of child support.

Expenses and Credits.
In determining the total child support obligation, the court shall: add to the basic child support obligation 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; and subtract any extraordinary credits agreed to by the parents or ordered by the court.

























































If a non-custodial parent is behind on child support, West Virginia law allows several things to happen in hopes of getting the parent to begin payment. If the parent is working at a job and can be tracked, past due child support can be held by wage garnishment or income withholding. The state can also suspend a driver’s license, deny a passport, and report the past due to credit agencies. West Virginia also allows liens on property to pay back child support.  In the state of WV, if child support is in arrears, then the state can add on 10 percent simple interest to the amount owed.

 West Virginia Amnesty Program

The Amnesty Program was created by the West Virginia Legislature in an attempt to help obligors who have accumulated a large child support arrearage get the debt paid off. If both the obligor and the obligee agree, all the interest or a portion of the interest which has accrued can be forgiven. In exchange for erasing the interest, the obligor must agree to pay off the principal amount owed within a 24 month (2 year) period.


West Virginia Customer Service

Note:  The foregoing information is provided as general family law guidelines in West Virginia and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case.  After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to About The Children.

Submitted by Linda O’Marie, Paralegal

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Posted in West Virginia Guidelines

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