Child Support Lawyer in Charlottesville, VA
Like all states, Virginia expects and mandates that both biological and adoptive parents of a child contribute towards his or her financial support. This is true whether the parents never married or lived together, or they divorced after several years of marriage. State law assumes that the parent with whom the child lives most of the time already contributes significantly to his or her support. For this reason, only the parent who has primary custody can request child support payments from the other parent.
Virginia uses the Income Shares Model when calculating child support, which means that it determines monthly child support based on the income of the two parents added together. The purpose is to provide children the same level of financial support that they had or would have had if their parents remained together. If applicable, both the mother and father must pay a portion of childcare costs, dental insurance, and health insurance based on their individual income and allowable deductions.
Creation of an Order for Child Support
In most cases, a judge from family law court determines the amount of child support the non-custodial parent must pay and creates a child support order. However, Virginia’s Department of Social Services could step in to create the order using the same formula as a family law judge. This usually happens when the primary parent is already on a social worker’s caseload or receives a benefit called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Sources of Eligible Income for Child Support Determination
The state considers all sources of income when it comes to determining child support. In addition to the parents’ regular paychecks, this could include:
- Prize winnings
- Rental income
- Severance pay
- Social security disability payments
- Spousal support from a former husband or wife
- Unemployment insurance
- Workers’ compensation
Certain income received by either parent may be exempt from calculations for child support. Public assistance from the county where the parent lives and federal government assistance in the form of supplemental security income are two common examples. Others include child support received or paid by one parent for children from a previous relationship and the income of a stepparent if either of the legal parents marries again.
The Income Shares Model in Detail
The first thing the person needs who determines the amount of monthly child support needs is the combined income of both parents and their number of joint children. Using these two numbers, the parents, a family law judge, or a county social worker can look up the child support amount on Virginia’s child support calculation website.
In one column is combined monthly income from $350 to $35,000. This column goes down the left side while the number of joint children goes across the top. If monthly income exceeds $35,000, the person calculating the child support amount should add 2.6 percent to the total for one child. It can go up to five percent depending on the number of children.
How Variations in Custody Arrangements Can Affect Child Support
If all children of a former couple live primarily with one parent and the other sees them on a visitation schedule, Virginia figures child support according to the percentage of income that each parent contributes to the combined income for both parents. A split custody situation means that two or more children live most of the time with different parents. In this situation, the state subtracts the income of the parent who earns less from the parent who earns more. This would be the amount of child support the lesser-earning parent would receive based on their proportionate share of income and expenses.
The definition of shared custody is when a mother or father has custody or visitation with the children more than 90 days a year. Virginia determines child support in this situation according to how many days the children spend with each parent. It may use the same income shares model that it does for sole custody if one parent has the children more than half the year and earns less than the other parent does.
Challenging or Changing a Child Support Amount
Both parents have the legal right to challenge the child support amount set by the judge or social worker if that parent feels it’s inadequate for the needs of the children or unfair to the parent who pays or receives it. Some of the factors that family law judges use when evaluating such a request include the following:
- If the parent ordered to pay child support is underemployed or unemployed through free will
- The financial support required for other family members not covered by the order
- The debts that each parent has taken on to help support the children
- The current arrangements for custody, which includes a review of expenses the non-custodial parent pays when he or she has the children
- Educational expenses for the children
- Life insurance proceeds one parent may receive
- The earning capacity, special needs, other debts, and financial resources each parent has available
- Any previous written agreements between the mother and father regarding child support
- Whether any children on the support order have exceptional needs
- The tax consequences of changing the order
- Whether any children on the order have financial resources of their own
- Whether the children still enjoy the same standard of living they had when the parents lived together
- If one parent will receive a large profit from the sale of any property accumulated during the marriage
Some other situations that may necessitate the review of a child support order include:
- The cost to provide health insurance has increased for the parent who carries it
- The cost of childcare has increased 25 percent or more
- A child on the support order has reached age 18 or graduated from high school, whichever comes later
- One parent has had a 25 percent or greater increase or decrease in income due to job change, promotion, or involuntary lay-off
- A child on the support order has higher than normal healthcare or dental costs
- One parent has not taken the percentage of custody indicated on the original divorce agreement
Let Us Help You Make Sense of it All
The above is a lot of information to process. Whether you expect to receive or pay child support, having an experienced family law attorney on your side will help both you and your children get through this transition easier. Please contact Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, Ltd. at 434-977-7977 to request your free consultation with one of our family law attorneys.
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