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How Virginia courts determine child support

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2024 | Family Law

The American Psychological Association estimates that 33% of first marriages end before they meet the ten-year mark. When parents part ways, ensuring the well-being of their children becomes a top priority.

One parent may pay the custodial parent to help support children. In Virginia, the court system employs a specific method to determine the amount of child support one parent must provide to the other.

Income considerations

The primary factor in child support calculations is the income of both parents. Virginia utilizes the “Income Shares” model, which takes into account the gross income of both parents. This includes wages, bonuses and other sources of income, such as investments or rental properties. The court considers both parents’ financial contributions to provide a fair and balanced assessment of the child’s needs.

Shared responsibility

Courts acknowledge that both parents share the responsibility of supporting their child financially. The court aims to ensure that the child’s standard of living remains consistent, considering the financial capabilities of both parents. It calculates the percentage of each parent’s income in relation to the combined income of both parents to determine the appropriate amount of child support.

Child-related expenses

Beyond basic financial support, the court takes into account additional child-related expenses. These may include healthcare, childcare and educational costs. If one parent covers these expenses directly, the court may adjust the child support amount accordingly. It is important to maintain open communication regarding these expenses to facilitate a fair assessment.

Parenting time

The amount of time each parent spends with the child also factors into the child support equation. The non-custodial parent, the one with less parenting time, typically pays child support to the custodial parent. However, if both parents share parenting time more equally, the court may adjust the child support amount to reflect this balanced contribution to the child’s upbringing.

Modifying child support orders

Life circumstances change, and so can the need for child support adjustments. Either parent can request a modification if there is a substantial change in income, living arrangements or other relevant factors.

Virginia’s child support calculations aim to provide a fair and equitable distribution of financial responsibility, ensuring that children receive the support they need for a stable and nurturing upbringing. Understanding the factors involved can help parents navigate this process with transparency and cooperation.