Child Support

The Commonwealth of Virginia has child support guidelines which are used to determine the presumptive amount of child support. [Virginia Code §20-108.1 and §20-108.2] The amount of child support is calculated by using state tables showing the monthly cost of raising children after first determining several factors, including the number of children, the income of each parent, the percentage of each parent’s income of the total parental income, the cost of child care and the cost of health insurance for the children.

In child support determinations, a court may vary the support from the presumptive guideline amount if the presumptive amount would be unfair or inappropriate in a particular case. Most courts are reluctant to vary the calculated guideline support and effort is required to convince a court to alter the presumptive award. The presumptive amount of support can be rebutted or varied by a consideration of the statutory factors in Virginia Code§20-108.1.

Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court is also set using presumptive guidelines. [Virginia Code §16.1-287.17:1]Temporary spousal support (also called spousal support pendente lite) set as part of a divorce proceeding in circuit court is not necessarily determined by the presumptive guidelines. The circuit courts have traditionally used a ’need and ability to pay’ inquiry. The court will look at the payee spouse’s need and then try to attempt to determine how that need can be met within the pay or spouse’s ability to pay. In determining spousal support, a court will consider any relevant evidence. For temporary support, even in circuit courts, a court typically will not consider fault in the dissolution of the marriage.

Even with the presumptive guidelines for support, there are many ways in which the attorneys at Gravitt & Gravitt, P.C. can assist you with your support matter.

  • The number of days and half-days that a non-custodial parent has his or her child can significantly impact child support.
  • The cost of health insurance for the child or children in question is borne by the parties according to their income shares and needs to be accurately determined.
  • The cost of child care is also borne by the parties according to their income shares and needs to be accurately determined. Child care costs may be different in the summer, on holidays and during the school year. Incorrect child care calculations can impact the child support award dramatically.
  • Support of other family members can change the support award but must be calculated properly.
  • Records may need to be subpoenaed from the opposing party or an employer to get accurate income, child care and insurance information.
  • If someone is not employed or only employed part-time, the court can impute income according to what they are capable of earning.
  • If someone was fired from a job or quit a job, the court may consider their previous income.
  • If a party is self-employed, we may have to review tax returns, business records and bank accounts to determine the true income of the self-employed parent.
  • Records may have to be acquired and reviewed to determine if some income has not been declared on tax returns.
  • The right to claim a child or children as dependents for tax purposes can be awarded by the court to either party. If not awarded in a support order, the right goes to the primary custodian under IRS rules.