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Deviating from Child Support Guidelines in Virginia

How Is Child Support Determined in Virginia?

In Virginia, child support awards are based on guidelines outlined in the Code of Virginia § 20- 108.2. Child support is calculated by the Department of Social Services using the parents’ combined gross monthly income and the schedule provided in this statute. There are several exemptions when calculating gross income, including benefits from public assistance and social service programs, federal supplemental security income benefits, and child support received.

If the parent has children from another relationship and an associated child support payment, that payment will be deducted from their gross income. Similarly, if a parent has a child or children to support, who are not associated with the current child support case, there will be a further deduction from their gross income. This deduction is based on the child support obligation schedule outlined in this statute.

Also not included in gross income is income from “secondary employment.” Secondary employment is when the payor obtains that job specifically to discharge an existing child support arrearage and when that arrearage is established in an administrative or court order.

Other Factors Considered when Determining Child Support

Determining child support is not as simple as calculating gross income and seeing where it falls on the chart provided in § 20- 108.2. As the statute explains, other factors are also used to help determine the specific amount a parent is ordered to pay.

Other factors that determine child support amounts include:

  • Health insurance costs for the child
  • Work-related childcare expenses
  • Whether the parents share custody or one parent has sole custody
  • The cost of raising a child
  • How many children the parents share
  • How many children both parents have to support overall

The child support guidelines in Virginia can be very complicated. If you are going through a divorce or separation and share children with your former partner, it is very important that you work with a skilled attorney familiar with how Virginia Courts handle child support and custody.

Can You Deviate from Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines?

In Virginia Law, there exists a rebuttable presumption that the amounts determined by the child support guidelines are correct. This means that you do have legal recourse to rebut the presumption and deviate from established child support guidelines when necessary. According to § 20- 108.1, to rebut the presumption, “the court shall make written findings in the order […] that the application of such guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case.”

Factors that may contribute to deviating from child support guidelines include:

  • Monetary support needed for other family members
  • Custody arrangements, such as the cost of travel for visitation
  • Child care costs when the custodial parent is attending an educational or vocational program that will ultimately facilitate an increase in the parent’s income
  • Child-related debts acquired during the marriage
  • Extraordinary capital gains, such as from selling the family home
  • Costs associated with a child’s special needs, such as physical, emotional, or medical needs
  • The child’s established standard of living while the parents were still together
  • Independent financial resources of the child

This is just a partial list of all factors that the courts will consider when deviating from child support guidelines. To find out what factors may affect your case, speak with your attorney or reach out to our law firm to discuss your case.

My Child’s Other Parent is Purposefully Unemployed to Avoid Child Support

Unfortunately, some people will go to great lengths to avoid paying child support. This includes tactics such as intentionally remaining unemployed or under-employed. When this happens, the courts may impute income for the unemployed or under-employed person as necessary. However, income will not be imputed when the unemployed or under-employed parent has custody while school is not in session and when childcare is not available.

What About Child Support Modifications?

Just as the courts can deviate from Virginia’s child support guidelines when necessary, you also have the option to seek a child support modification if your situation calls for it. To obtain an amendment, the parent seeking the change in the child support order will have to prove to the courts that there has been a substantive change in circumstances that warrants the modification.

Circumstances that may require a child support modification include:

  • A new child is born
  • A parent remarries, and their financial obligations and ability to pay support changes
  • Relocation of a parent or the child
  • Retirement
  • Health issues or disability

If you believe you have grounds for a child support modification, Malinowski Hubbard, PLLC for guidance. Our attorneys are experienced and are prepared to represent you throughout the process.