How to Determine Child Support
Child support is the amount of money paid monthly by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent to help cover the expenses of raising the children. Regardless of whether you were married to your children’s other parent, it is important to obtain a court order that details the non-custodial parent’s child support obligations.
In Virginia, child support calculations are governed by statute. The specific guidelines for calculating support are described in Virginia Code Section 20-108.2. While a court will consider all relevant evidence on a case-by-case basis to determine the child support amount, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount reached under Section 20-108.2 is correct.
The child support guidelines set forth the “total monthly child support obligation” based on the parents’ combined monthly gross income and number of children. The total monthly child support obligation is then used to calculate how much money the non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent each month.
Sole Custody Child Support
In “sole custody” situations—where the non-custodial parent receives 90 days or less of visitation with their children each year—the calculation looks like this: (total monthly child support obligation + allowable costs for child healthcare and work-related child care) x (non-custodial parent’s percentage of both parents’ gross monthly income).
For example, a separated mother and father with 2 children each earn $500 per month, for a total monthly gross income of $1,000.00. According to the Virginia child support guidelines, the total child support obligation for both parents is $285.00 per month. Now, consider that the custodial parent pays $50 per month for the children’s health insurance, and $65 per month for work-related child care. The non-custodial parent will have a child support obligation of (($285+$115) x .50), or $200.00 per month.
If the non-custodial parent or his/her spouse pays all of the child healthcare costs directly, this amount can be subtracted from the calculation above to determine the amount of monthly child support to be paid.
Shared Custody Child Support
In “shared custody” situations—where the non-custodial parent receives more than 90 days of visitation with their children each year—the calculation is more difficult. Under this scenario, the calculation requires use of each parent’s “income share,” “custody share,” and “shared support need.”
Income share refers to each parent’s percentage of the combined monthly gross income, and is determined as follows:
Parent 1’s Income Share = (parent 1’s monthly gross income) / (both parents’ combined monthly gross income)
Parent 2’s Income Share = (parent 2’s monthly gross income) / (both parents’ combined monthly gross income)
So if the parents’ combined monthly gross income is $1000, and each parent’s monthly gross income is $500, then both parent 1 and parent 2 will have an income share of .50.
Custody share means the percentage of time each year that each parent has (or is expected to have) physical custody of their children, and is determined as follows:
Parent 1’s Custody Share = (number of days parent 1 has custody of children) / (365 days)
Parent 2’s Custody Share = (number of days parent 2 has custody of children) / (365 days)
If parent 1 will have custody of the children 115 days each year, then
parent 1 has a custody share of 115 / 365 or .315.
Since parent 2 will have custody of the children for the remainder of the year, or 250 days, then parent 2 has a custody share of 250 / 365 or .685.
Shared Support Need
Shared support need refers to the guideline amount of needed support for
the children, and is determined as follows:
(Total monthly child support obligation) x 1.4.
If parent 1 and parent 2 make a combined gross monthly income of $1000 and they have 2 kids, then the shared support need for the children is 285 x 1.4 or 399.
Total Shared Custody Amounts
Now that the income share, custody share and shared support need figures have been determined, the total shared custody guideline support amount is calculated as follows:\
Support Paid by Parent 1 = (shared support need x parent 2’s custody share) + (healthcare and childcare paid by parent 1) x parent 1’s income share.
Support Paid by Parent 2 = (shared support need x parent 1’s custody share) + (healthcare and childcare paid by parent 2) x parent 2’s income share.
If the “support paid by parent 1” is less than the “support paid by parent 2,” then parent 2 will be ordered to pay an amount equal to (“support paid by parent 1”) – (“support paid by parent 2”).
If the “support paid by parent 2” is less than the “support paid by parent 1,” then parent 1 will be ordered to pay an amount equal to (“support paid by parent 2”) – (“support paid by parent 1”).
Using the numbers above to calculate income share, custody share, and shared support need, assume that parent 1 and parent 2 both pay $115 for healthcare and child care each month. Then the support paid by each respective parent is:
Parent 1 = (399 x .685) + (115) x .5 or $194.16.
Parent 2 = (399 x .315) + (115) x .5 or $120.34.
Because Parent 2 has a lower support obligation than Parent 1, Parent 1 will be ordered to pay the difference between the two amounts as his/her child support obligation: ($194.16-$120.34) or $73.82.
Remember, the above calculations are based on the guidelines enacted by the Virginia General Assembly and are presumed correct. However, parents can challenge the guideline amount(s) in court. If you need help obtaining or challenging a child support obligation, or have any other family law issue, the attorneys at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC are happy to assist you. Call us for a consultation today at (888) 530-4374.