Child support is not merely a financial transaction; it embodies a parent’s commitment to their child’s well-being, even after a divorce. While each state has its own approach to this issue, Virginia boasts a unique set of guidelines and principles. For families in Virginia Beach and its surroundings, understanding these guidelines often seems daunting.
At Pincus Goodman, P.C., our Virginia Beach child support lawyers have guided families through the labyrinth of child support laws for decades. This in-depth knowledge and experience help us protect the rights and best interests of both parents and children. Let’s dive deeper into the specifics of how Virginia determines child support.
How Virginia Courts Determine Child Support Payments
According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, the idea behind child support payments is to help children of separated parents enjoy the same standard of living they had when their parents lived together. To that end, Virginia law lays out the basic guidelines for determining child support payments when parents divorce.
While the system does not always work perfectly, Virginia’s child support laws aim to balance the child’s needs, the parents’ financial resources, and each parent’s role in raising the child. Because the laws regarding child support payments are so complicated, family law judges typically use a standardized worksheet to calculate the payment amount. The state Department of Social Services says the minimum child support payment under the current formula is $68 per month.
Critical Factors in Virginia Child Support Decisions
Virginia’s child support guidelines include many factors that can affect how much a parent pays each month. Those factors include:
- Gross Income of Both Parents: Typically, the more money a child’s parents earn, the higher the child support amount. This is because the state believes that children should benefit from the financial status of both parents, regardless of marital status.
- Custody Arrangements: In shared custody situations, where each parent has the child for more than 90 days a year, child support payments may differ significantly from sole custody cases.
- Childcare Expenses: Under the statute, childcare costs incurred by the custodial parent because they work are to be added to the basic support requirement.
- Health Insurance Premiums: The parent paying for the child’s health insurance can claim this expense, which will be factored into the child support calculation.
- Special Needs or Uninsured Medical Expenses: If a child has unique needs, such as ongoing medical treatments, therapies, or other uninsured health-related costs, these can influence the monthly support amount.
- Number of Dependent Children: As the number of dependent children increases, the total support amount will generally increase, although the amount for each child might be less.
- Prior Support Obligations: If a parent already has existing child support or spousal support obligations from a previous relationship, this can decrease the amount available for current child support calculations.
Modifying Child Support Orders in Virginia
Either parent can request the courts to modify an existing child support order, though the courts do not always grant these requests. Parents can petition the courts directly or file a request through the Virginia Department of Social Services to change a child support order. However, the courts typically will not grant your request unless the parent asking for the change can demonstrate that there’s been a significant change in circumstances since the original child support order. Common reasons the courts will modify a child support order include:
- Either parent lost their job or experienced a sharp drop in income
- A parent or the child has suffered a severe illness or disability
- There has been a substantial increase in the child’s daily expenses
- A change in the child’s status (the child turns 18, graduates, becomes emancipated, etc.)
Our Virginia Beach Child Support Lawyers Are Here for You
Working with an experienced attorney is crucial to protecting your rights during child support proceedings. The Virginia Beach child support attorneys at Pincus Goodman, P.C., can advocate for your interests and guide you through this cumbersome process. Call us at (757) 301-9634 or complete our contact form today for a confidential case review.