Understanding Child Support Laws

At Maddox & Gerock, our experienced Virginia family law attorneys are familiar with the complex issues of Virginia child support laws. Essentially, the law states that parents have a legal duty to support their children to the best of their ability and consistent with their income and custody arrangement.

Virginia has enacted presumptive child support guidelines.

Unless a deviation from the guidelines would be appropriate, support obligations in Virginia are set according to a formula that considers each party's gross income for the purpose of determining child support liability, as well as work-related childcare expenses, the costs of maintaining health insurance for the children, and the custody arrangement. In Virginia, gross income means income from all sources and includes:

  • Salaries, wages, commissions, royalties, bonuses, dividends and severance pay
  • Pensions, interest, trust income, annuities and capital gains
  • Social Security benefits, with certain exceptions
  • Unemployment insurance benefits
  • Workers' compensation benefits
  • Disability insurance benefits
  • Gifts, prizes or awards
  • Veterans' benefits
  • Spousal support
  • Rental income

Gross income is subject to deduction for reasonable business expenses for persons with income from self-employment, a partnership or a closely held business. Courts may also consider certain additional factors and deviate from the Virginia child support guidelines, if appropriate.

Understanding Spousal Support or Alimony

In spousal support or alimony disputes, our lawyers strive to reach a just and fair agreement between our client and their spouse or former spouse whenever possible. If an acceptable agreement cannot be reached, we vigorously pursue and protect our client's rights in court.

Virginia courts are required to consider a number of factors as set forth in Virginia Code §20-107.1 in arriving at a fair spousal support award, including:

  • The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;
  • The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home;
  • The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
  • The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
  • The provisions made with regard to the marital property under § 20-107.3;
  • The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;
  • The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;
  • The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market;
  • The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party;
  • Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party and the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution, specifically including any ground for divorce, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

There are a number of options available to those seeking alimony, including provisions for:

• Permanent alimony/spousal support, in which payments are awarded until death or remarriage. Few states apart from Virginia still award permanent alimony.

• Rehabilitative alimony/spousal support, in which payments are awarded only for a predetermined period of time.

Once the court determines spousal support, a court order is established to ensure enforcement. If the person paying alimony does not honor the terms of the order, he or she can be found in contempt of court. If there are any changes in the ex-spouse's financial situations, the proper course of action is to petition the court for a modification.

Spousal support is one of the most complicated and unpredictable issues facing divorcing couples and now requires the court to make a determination as to whether retirement was considered and to what extent in fashioning a spousal support award.

To arrange a consultation about any child or spousal support concern, call Maddox & Gerock at 703-883-8035 or send us an email. Our office is conveniently located in Falls Church, allowing us to serve clients throughout Northern Virginia.