When you get a divorce in Virginia, the courts expect that both parties will agree on a fair division of assets. If they cannot agree, the judge will decide for them. But one aspect of Virginia divorce and even parents living apart that isn’t left up to chance is that of child support.
Many couples that decide to go their separate ways or who never live together initially, have young children. Depending on the circumstances of the couple, one parent may receive sole or majority child custody and will seek child support from the other parent.
Child Support Laws in Virginia
The way that child support is handled varies by states, and Virginia’s guidelines are outlined in the Virginia Code §20-108.2. There is a sophisticated mathematical formula that is used to figure out the child support payment for a case. How the formula is used depends on the custody arrangement between the parents. The different custody arrangements are:
- Sole custody. This is where a child stays with one parent for a majority of the year.
- Shared custody. A child stays with each parent for at least 91 days out of the year.
- Split custody. This is where a couple has two or more children, and each parent has custody of at least one child for a majority of the year.
How Virginia Child Support is Calculated
Virginia bases its child support guidelines on the total income of the two parents. To begin, the gross income of both parents is required to arrive at a family income. A parent’s gross income can be adjusted for such things as alimony/spousal support, support for other children, and some government benefits.
A state table outlines how much parents at different monthly family income levels should put aside for child support obligations for households of one to six children. If the combined family income is $35,000 or greater per month, it falls outside the table and support is based on a percentage of income from 2.6% for one child to 5% for six children. Items that are added to the support obligation include the cost of health insurance and any work-related childcare expenses.
The final obligation for child support is then apportioned between to the two parents based on each of their respective incomes. For instance, if one parent makes 65% of the total family income, they would pay 65% of the child support expenses. Who makes payment depends on the child custody arrangement. The non-custodial parent will pay their child support figure each month to the custodial parent. That same parent would also have to pay a portion of any reasonable and necessary unreimbursed medical and dental costs.
Custody arrangements can impact these child support figures. For example, when there is a shared custody arrangement, each parent’s custody “share” is used to adjust the final figures. When there is split custody, the courts will calculate sole custody for each parent and then make the appropriate adjustments.
Appealing a Child Support Ruling in Virginia
Virginia child support laws are meant to create the most equitable solution possible as well as one that is in the best interests of the child. The courts do, however, recognize that each situation is unique, so a judge has the power to increase or decrease a child support award if they feel that it is justified.
When a child support figure is calculated, a parent has the right to ask the court to either raise or lower the award based on certain factors. These factors might include obligations to children from another relationship, special needs or expenses required by the child, or other legally allowed deductions. It is also possible to ask the court for a modification of a child support order if you or the other parent have a change in your financial situation, which is usually considered an increase or decrease of 25% or more in income or expenses.
Consult a Virginia Child Support Attorney
Setting up and receiving child support payments in Virginia can be complicated. Whether you and your children’s other parent were married or not, child support is not the same as divorce or child custody. Sometimes the basic formula for Virginia child support isn’t fair to all parties concerned and having an experienced legal advocate in your corner could make the difference with a judge.
The compassionate family law attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead have helped parents with child support and custody issues throughout Virginia. We use our expertise to fight for your rights and advocate for decisions that are in the best interests of your children. Contact us now at (703) 361-1555 or online to sched