In Virginia, child support is calculated primarily by use of Virginia’s presumptive child support guidelines. In all cases, the guidelines must first be considered before a court can deviate up or down from the guidelines.
The amount that a parent is expected to pay in child support will be dependent on a number of different considerations. The presumptive child support guidelines look at each party’s gross income from all sources, the costs of reasonable and necessary work-related childcare, the costs of health insurance for the children, and the custodial schedule. If one of the parents has custodial time with the children 90 days or less per year, then child support will be calculated using the sole custody guidelines. If both parents have custodial time with the children for more than 90 days per year, then child support will be calculated using the shared custody guidelines. A day is considered a 24 hour period of time. A period of time that includes an overnight but not a full 24 hour period of time is considered half a day. A period of time that does not include an overnight and is less than 24 hours is not counted. The guidelines can be found at: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title20/chapter6/section20-108.2.
Although the support calculation may be less when the shared custody guidelines are utilized, decisions about custody should ultimately be made based on the best interests of the children and not which child support guidelines will apply.
There are circumstances in which the Court may deviate from the presumptive child support guidelines. Virginia law sets out a number of factors for the Court to consider one a parent believes that the presumptive child support guidelines should not be applied. Those factors can be found at Virginia Code Section 20-108.1. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title20/chapter6/section20-108.1/
There are many other issues to consider when child support is being calculated. For example, all child support orders in Virginia must include provisions on how unreimbursed medical and dental expenses incurred on behalf of a child will be paid. If the unreimbursed medical or dental expense is reasonable and necessary, the court order will require the parents to each pay the expense in proportion to their respective gross incomes. In negotiating child support, parents should consider how a child’s extra-curricular activities will be paid, how will participation in those activities be determined, whether other expenses should be shared such as tutoring, private school, driver’s education, college applications, car insurance for a teen driver, college, and other such expenses. In Virginia, the legal duty to financially support a child generally ends upon that child’s graduation from high school, if the child is 18 years of age at his/her graduation. As such, absent a written agreement stating otherwise, the court cannot require parents to pay for college.
It is also important to determine whether child support will be deducted from the other parent’s pay, whether it will be paid directly to the custodial parent, or whether it will be paid through the Division of Child Support Enforcement. Each option has different considerations that should be discussed with an attorney.
There is a lot more to the determination of child support than just a parent’s income and as such, it is important to discuss these important issues with a knowledgeable family law attorney. If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out to us at Maddox & Gerock.