How Is Child Support Determined?

How Is Child Support Determined?

If the parties cannot agree upon an amount for child support, the Code of Virginia has a presumptive formula for determining child support to be paid between the parties.[1]  This formula is to be used by the Court unless there is evidence for deviation. If there is a sole or primary custody arrangement (the non-custodial parent has less than 90 days visitation a year), the Court utilizes a chart provided in the Code (with the two parents total gross income and the number of children) to come up with a basic figure of total support, which is then modified with health insurance costs for the children, work-related daycare costs, and a few other factors. 

If the parties have a shared custody arrangement (the non-custodial parent has more than 90 days visitation a year), the Court utilizes a different formula that takes into account each day above 90 for the non-custodial parent. 
As mentioned above, the Court may deviate from the formula-derived support if finds that the application of the guideline formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case. The Court must consider certain factors in making this deviation[2]:

  1. Actual monetary support for other family members or former family members;
  2. Arrangements regarding custody of the children, including the cost of visitation travel;
  3. Imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily under-employed; provided that income may not be imputed to the custodial parent when a child is not in school, child care services are not available and the cost of such child care services are not included in the computation and provided further, that any consideration of imputed income based on a change in a party’s employment shall be evaluated with consideration of the good faith and reasonableness of employment decisions made by the party;
  4. Debts of either party arising during the marriage for the benefit of the child;
  5. Direct payments ordered by the court for maintaining life insurance coverage pursuant to subsection D, education expenses, or other court-ordered direct payments for the benefit of the child;
  6. Extraordinary capital gains such as capital gains resulting from the sale of the marital abode;
  7. Any special needs of a child resulting from any physical, emotional, or medical condition;
  8. Independent financial resources of the child or children;
  9. Standard of living for the child or children established during the marriage;
  10. Earning capacity, obligations, financial resources, and special needs of each parent;
  11. Provisions made with regard to the marital property under § 20-107.3, where said property earns income or has an income-earning potential;
  12. Tax consequences to the parties including claims for exemptions, child tax credit, and child care credit for dependent children;
  13. A written agreement, stipulation, consent order, or decree between the parties which includes the amount of child support; and
  14. Such other factors as are necessary to consider the equities for the parents and children. 

[1]Virginia Code §20-108.2.

[2]Virginia Code §20-108.1.

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