Child Support Lawyers in Manassas
Virginia requires both parents to financially support their children, whether married, never married, or divorced. However, only the parent with whom the children primarily live can request child support payments. That is because the law assumes the parent with primary custody already contributes to the child or children’s support.
Determining monthly child support is a fairly simple and straightforward process in Virginia. It seeks to provide children with a lifestyle similar to the one they enjoyed before their parents relationship failed by providing the financial support they would have received in a combined household. It starts by combining the gross monthly income of both parents, then factors in other circumstances specific to each individual case.
Who Creates a Child Support Order?
The obligation to pay child support is created by a document called a “Child Support Order”. A family law court judge normally sets the amount for child support and creates the order, but this isn’t always the case. It could be issued by the state’s social services department using the same formula employed by family law court judge. Parents who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) shouldn’t have to file for a child support order. In the case of TANF, the state’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) should do it for you.
What is Considered Income for Child Support Purposes?
The income used in the child support calculation consists of all earned income, not just what each parent takes home from their weekly paycheck. It also includes the following:
- Severance pay
- Unemployment insurance
- Social security disability payments
- Workers’ compensation
- Spousal support
- Rental income
- Prize winnings
Some income is exempt from child support calculations, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and public assistance from your local county. Child support received or paid for a child with a different partner is also excluded, as is your spouse’s income if you marry again.
Virginia’s Formula for Determining Child Support Obligations
In order to use the child support formula, you will need the gross monthly income of both parents and the number of children receiving support. A parent can have more than one child support case, but they must be separate if the other parent is not the same for all children. After determining the combined gross monthly income of both parents the following items are considered:
- Spousal support
- Support for other children
- Health care coverage
- Child care
Variations for Different Custody Arrangements
In a sole custody situation, where the children live all of the time with one parent and the other has visitation rights, the state determines child support based on how much each parent contributes to combined income. A split custody arrangement where multiple children live primarily with different parents is figured the same way with some exceptions. After arriving at each parent’s proportionate share, the difference between the two amounts would be paid by the parent with the larger income.
The state considers a shared custody arrangement to occur when one parent has visitation or custody for 90 or more days of the year. Child support for shared custody situations is determined by the ratio in which the parents share custody and visitation. You can request that the state use the same formula for sole custody arrangements if you have the children most of the time and earn a lower income than the other parent.
When Might You or the Other Parent Challenge a Child Support Calculation?
Either parent can challenge the ordered amount if he or she feels it would be unfair to the children or the person receiving or paying child support. A family court judge will consider some or all of the following factors when deciding whether to approve or deny the request related to unfair child support:
- Whether a parent is voluntarily unemployed or under-employed
- Current custody arrangements, including costs incurred by the non-custodial parent during visitation
- Support required for other family members
- Debts incurred by each parent to support the children
- Large capital gains from the sale of the home the couple lived in prior to divorce
- Other court-ordered expenses
- Life insurance proceeds and educational expenses
- Special needs of any of the children
- Standard of living the children were accustomed to during the marriage
- Independent financial resources of any of the children
- Potential profits from sale of marital property
- Special needs, debts, earning capacity, and resources of each parent
- Tax consequences
- Written agreements between the couple regarding child support
Reviewing and Adjusting a Child Support Order
After a child support order has been implemented, either parent can require a review and adjustment in certain circumstances. The most common ones include:
- A 25 percent or greater change in income due to job loss or promotion
- Removing a child from the order who has come of age
- Childcare expenses increase by more than 25 percent
- Large outstanding medical or dental expenses
- Change in health insurance costs
- If one parent in a shared custody arrangement consistently fails to take custody as expected
Trust Our Experienced Virginia Family Law Attorneys with Your Child Support Case
Child support formulas can be complex and difficult to understand. You may also feel you have extenuating circumstances that a judge is failing to consider in your case, whether you are set to receive child support or pay it. The experienced and compassionate family law attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead are here to help you through the process and to advocate on your behalf in court if necessary. The most important thing to consider is that your children’s needs continue to be met during this extremely difficult life transition.
Contact our experienced and compassionate family attorneys to schedule your consultation. Call us today at (703) 361-1555 or send us a message through our website.