As was mentioned in the last post, a custody order is not necessary to get an order of child support. This post addresses that issue in slightly more detail.
A child custody order can be helpful in setting out the exact schedule so that days can be calculated—and they are immensely useful outside the context of child support, but I am limiting myself to support considerations right now—but they are not necessary in order to get support. It is the public policy of Virginia that parents should each pay their share of supporting their children, and requiring a custody order first would make that process potentially take longer. If a child is living primary with one parent then that parent can request child support even without getting a custody order. The big exception, for practical and not legal purposes, is that it is nearly impossible to do a shared custody calculation other than exactly 50/50 without an order setting out who gets what days because it gets too messy and there are always arguments between the parents.
With that said, I absolutely do recommend that parents get custody and visitation orders when they are not living together, even if they are getting along fine. In fact, those orders are important especially when the parents are getting along fine because if so it is easier to agree now on how to resolve things than to wait for a problem and fight about it then. There will be a more in-depth discussion of custody orders and their benefits later, but I did not want it to seem like I was advocating that people ignore custody orders and just get support orders while hoping everything works out fine; far from it.
Please enjoy this disclaimer: The content of this post, indeed of all of my posts, is intended to reference only Virginia law. I am writing this blog to give some idea of the complexities that can underlie family law issues in Virginia and in no way am I giving anyone legal advice here. While I hope these posts will be informative, no one should feel entitled to rely on the information presented here as an authoritative source. Anyone facing a legal issue is well advised to speak to a lawyer face to face to discuss the specifics of that case, rather than relying on general information found on the internet.