Child support is an important part of most cases in Virginia that involve children. It may arise within a divorce case or as a petition for child support filed in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. You may be the party seeking child support, or the other party may be trying to obtain child support from you. Regardless, because the law requires that parents financially support their minor children, most divorcing parents in Virginia will be either paying or receiving child support.
Child support is usually determined by consideration of Virginia’s child support guidelines. The guidelines use a formula that factors in the gross income of each parent to determine the basic child support amount, and then additional costs are considered. Those additional costs are the health insurance costs for the children, and the cost of any reasonable work-related child care.
Virginia’s child support guidelines also take into account the number of children in the family, and the number of days that each party has with the children. It is important to consider whether the sole custody guidelines are used, or if the shared custody guidelines are used (such as where a non-primary custodial parent has more than 90 days per year with the children, or where there is an equal sharing of the children’s physical custody).
In some cases, there may be a significant difference between sole and shared custody child support. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced Virginia child support lawyer to learn what the possible outcomes might be in your case.
On occasion, a judge or the parents may choose to not strictly follow the child support guidelines where it is appropriate. This is referred to as a “deviation”. One example of where this may occur is where a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, and income is “imputed” to them. The purpose of imputing income is to avoid a situation where child support is unfairly reduced for the children due to the voluntary decisions of a parent regarding his or her income, or lack thereof.
Some of the other factors the Court may consider in a request to deviate from Virginia’s child support guidelines are the special needs of your child resulting from a physical or emotional condition, and the standard of living for the child established during the parent’s marriage or relationship.
Child support may be agreed to by the parents. If an agreement is reached, it should be included in a written agreement and court order. If an agreement is not reached, the issue will be decided by the trial judge after the presentation of evidence and argument.
At Wexell Milman, our office is experienced in dealing with the issues specific to child support – including calculation of income, imputation of income, establishing child care costs, child support, deviation, and unique issues involving shared or split child custody. These can be complex issues, so you should confer with a family law attorney who regularly handles these types of cases before you make any decisions about child support or custody. Proudly serving clients in Fairfax County and throughout Northern Virginia, the divorce lawyers at Wexell Milman will work hard to ensure that ensure all reasonable expenses for your children are covered when the child support amount is set. To find out how we can help to secure your child’s financial future, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Virginia child support lawyers by calling 703-385-3858 or contacting us online.