How is Child Support Calculated in Virginia?
When a marriage is no longer viable, couples often choose to divorce. It is a tragedy and not the way you expected your life to unfold. It is also wise to be informed and know your rights in order to preserve them, especially when children are involved. We will help you decide if you want to file a fault or no-fault divorce. If children are involved or you do not have a written agreement, you will have to wait one year before you can file for a no-fault divorce. You may want to enter into a legal separation which is available on the grounds of a fault divorce. Others want a complete break and choose a “complete” divorce.
When Children are Involved
When you have children, things become a bit more complicated. When children are involved and there are issues of support or alimony and you do not agree with your spouse, you will have to opt for a contested divorce. In that case, expect the assets of both sides to be assessed as well as the liabilities. We will want to know the relative worth of each of the parents. Some property is jointly owned, some individually. That may include items or property that was acquired before the marriage. You will need skilled legal help during this phase when the court considers the division of assets and how long you were married to determine the level of support. What is the earning power of each spouse? Who should the children live with? The custodial spouse may have the children live with them while the other partner receives a visitation schedule. How liberal that is depends, in part, on the couple. Is the separation friendly or is there animosity? You generally want to work these things out with your former partner, rather than have a court decide these important matters.
How to Determine Child Support
Each parent is expected to contribute financially to support the minor children. The calculations come down to math and are laid out under the child support guidelines in the Virginia Code. For example, say a non-custodial parent has an income of $5,000 a month. He has an obligation of $755 a month for one child, $1,136 a month for two children and it goes up from there. Any custody arrangements would be considered in determining the payments. In a sole custody case, the child support is determined by adding the monthly support obligation to costs for health care coverage and child care costs. The child support depends on what percentage each parent pays into the combined income. Shared custody will determine how much each parent pays. The support is based on how much time the child spends with each parent. Exemptions might include a person who is disabled, institutionalized, or in prison. If a parent is poor, the court has an option to set a payment below the statutory minimum provided that it does not impair the parent’s ability to support a livable housing and provide for basic necessities. If your salary is lowered through no fault of your own, the court may take that into consideration, if it is not deliberate. Conversely, if one’s income increases, the child support payments are likely to increase. Fail to pay child support and in Virginia you are guilty of a Class U misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a year in jail or both. Child support continues until the child reached the legal age of adulthood at 18, unless the teen is still living at home. The custodial parent can then petition for child support beyond the age of 18, at least until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 19. If the child is disabled mentally or physically, child support can continue beyond the age of 18 if the child lives in the home of a custodial parent. The lawyers at the Pack Law Group can explain divorce and child support issues during a complimentary consultation. We can be reached at our offices in Bedford, Lynchburg, Roanoke and central Virginia at 540-586-7225. Let us help lighten the load on you as the divorce proceeds. We can help you work toward finalizing your divorce and child support matters.