In Virginia, both parents have a legal obligation to provide support to their children. If two parents are no longer married or living together, the court may order child support payments to ensure both parents are fulfilling their legal obligation.
If you are getting divorced or ending your relationship with your child’s mother or father, it’s important to work with a Roanoke child support lawyer and to understand how child support payments are calculated and what factors could affect this calculation.
How Are Child Support Payments Determined in Virginia?
The first step in calculating child support payments is determining each parent’s gross monthly income. The court will need to know more than just each parent’s salary in order to come up with this number.
When calculating child support, the term “gross income” refers to many different types of income, including:
- Severance pay
- Trust income
- Capital gains
- Certain Social Security benefits
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Disability insurance benefits
- Spousal support
- Gifts, prizes, or awards
The law allows parents to make certain deductions to their monthly gross income. For example, if you pay spousal support to an ex-spouse not involved in your current child support dispute, you can deduct these payments from your monthly gross income. Self-employed parents can also deduct certain business expenses and self-employment taxes from their gross monthly income.
After calculating the parents’ combined monthly gross income, the court will use Virginia’s schedule of monthly basic child support obligations to determine how much child support should be paid. This table outlines how much parents at various income levels should expect to pay every month for their children.
The table lists different amounts for each income level and for each household size. For example, parents with a combined monthly gross income of $3,000 should expect to spend $498 per month if they have one child, but $757 per month if they have two.
This table tells you how much both parents should set aside for their children every month. In child support cases, the court will order both parents to pay the amount from the table in proportion to their gross income. For example, let’s say the parents have a combined monthly income of $3,000, with the father earning 60% and the mother earning 40% of this total.
According to the table, the parents should expect to spend $498 per month on their child based on their income level. In this case, the father would be responsible for paying 60% of this amount, or $298.80 and the mother would be responsible for contributing $199.20, or 40% of the monthly child support.
It’s important to note that the judge presiding over your case may decide not to stick closely to these guidelines. Judges have the authority to deviate from the child support guidelines when they believe it is in the best interests of the child to do so.
How Can Child Custody Affect Child Support Calculations?
The parents’ monthly income and the number of children involved are not the only two factors that can affect the final child support calculations. The child custody arrangement can impact the amount that you pay or receive, too.
There are three main types of custody arrangements in Virginia, including:
- Sole custody: the child is in the custody of one parent for the majority of the year.
- Shared custody: the child spends a minimum of 91 days of the year with each parent.
- Split custody: the couple has at least two children, and each parent has custody of one or more of these children for the majority of the year.
To see how custody affects child support payments, consider the same example from above. In this example, the father earns 60% of the combined monthly income, whereas the mother earns 40% of it. If the mother is awarded sole custody of the child, the father should expect to pay 60% of the total child support obligations to the mother.
However, if both parents share custody of the child, the father will not have to pay the mother as much since she will not have as much time with the child, and therefore not need to spend as much on him or her. The judge will need to adjust the final figure to account for the time that each parent spends with the child.
Does Child Support Cover Healthcare and Childcare Expenses?
The figure that is calculated using the schedule of monthly basic child support obligations does not account for healthcare or childcare expenses. However, if a parent is paying for healthcare, vision or dental coverage for the child, the cost of that coverage shall be added to the monthly support amount. The expenses must be reasonable, and in some cases, the court may ask the custodial parent to provide documentation that verifies the cost of these services.
Can Parents Modify Child Support Payments in Virginia?
Both parents must comply with the child support order issued by the court. However, it is possible to request a modification if you believe the payments should be increased or decreased.
For example, a non-custodial parent that is paying child support may request a modification if he receives a significant pay cut that makes it difficult for him to pay the amount that was initially ordered. Parents can also request modifications if they have more children or if the child develops special needs that lead to an increase in expenses.
Although both parents have the right to request modifications, it is the judge who gets to decide whether or not to approve these requests. This means the initial child support order remains in effect until the judge has ruled on the modification request.
Contact Our Law Firm to Discuss Your Child Support Case Now
If you are involved in a child support dispute—regardless of whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent—it’s important to contact a family law attorney at once. Let a Roanoke family law attorney represent you during the child support hearing to ensure the final agreement is in your family’s best interests.