What Does Child Support Cover in Virginia?
Virginia child support laws are designed to make sure that both parents are fulfilling their obligations to support their children. They are based on the concept that a child should enjoy the same standard of living as the parents.
Although both parents share the obligation to provide financially for a child, the law does not presume that parents will provide equal monetary contributions. A parent’s income, ability to pay, and time spent with the child are some of the key factors that impact a calculation of child support.
The Connection Between Parenting Time and Child Support in Virginia
Virginia has what effectively amounts to two sets of guidelines for child support.Virginia Shared Custody Child Support Guidelines are generally used in situations where each parent spends at least 90 days each year with the child. The more visitation time the parent has, the less support that parent is expected to pay.
The law presumes that while a child is with one parent, that parent is contributing significant resources to care for the child. If that is not the case, a Virginia child support lawyer can help the other parent rebut that presumption. This can be helpful in cases where a parent tries to obtain additional parenting time not because they want to enjoy time with the child but for other reasons, such as to get even with the other parent or reduce child support obligations.
When a parent spends less than 90 days per year with a child, then courts usually apply the standardVirginia Child Support Guidelines. Unlike the Shared Custody Guidelines, the formulas here do not provide credit for the amount of time spent with a child. Support obligations are the same whether the parent is providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner 89 days out of the year or only one. A day is considered 24 hours, so a parent who sees their child for a few hours on a school night each week and every other weekend would likely pay based on the standard guidelines.
Quick Facts About Virginia Child Support Obligations
Virginia child support laws are complex. To fully understand the application and obligations, it is necessary to look at provisions in the Virginia Code, regulatory rules based on the statutes, and court decisions interpreting the legislative and administrative requirements. However, it is possible to start with a few generalizations:
- Calculations based on the guidelines are presumed appropriate. If a parent believes the state’s child support guidelines should not apply or should apply differently, that parent must submit evidence to show why.
- Parents can agree to provide more but not less. The court is far more likely to approve a voluntary agreement to pay more than the guidelines require than it is to approve a parent’s voluntary acceptance of less than the figure calculated under the guidelines.
- Support obligations usually end when a child turns 18. If a child is a full-time student, support may be required until the child graduates high school or turns 19. Parents can agree to continue support longer.
- Support calculations are based on gross income. Although calculations based on net income give a more accurate picture of available resources, gross figures are used to simplify calculations.
- Child support can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. Modification orders will be dated back to the time the modification request was filed.
- Childcare costs are included. Parents are expected to share the expenses of childcare in proportion to their income.
It can be difficult to change child support orders once entered, and it can be equally difficult to determine when a change in circumstances warrants a modification of child support obligations. That means it is a good idea to work with an experienced Virginia child support lawyer when establishing obligations or if you believe a modification is appropriate.
Consult a Knowledgeable Child Support Attorney Serving Virginia
Delays in negotiating or seeking modification of child support obligations can be costly and lead to increased conflict. At DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, we know the importance of establishing child support arrangements that serve the best interests of your family both today and in the future. Contact one of our dedicated child support attorneys for a confidential consultation to learn how we could assist in your case.