Comprehensive and Informative Commentary on State and Federal Legal Matters
A popular question asked during divorce matters is “How is child support determined?” Since the answer to this question is often very important, not only for the parties involved in the divorce but for their children as well, it is important to understand the process of child support determination prior to filing for divorce.
As a matter of principle, every parent has a duty to support their children. To this end,both parties are responsible for child support and support is initially determined by application of Virginia Code § 20-108.2, the state guidelines for child support. Each parent is expected to pay a pro rata (proportional) share of the child support which is calculated based on the gross incomes of the parents, the costs of daycare, cost of health insurance, and costs of extraordinary medical expenses. Courts can deviate from the guidelines after first determining the guideline amount and making a determination of a need for deviation in order to correct what is perceived as a manifest injustice.
Virginia Code Section 20-108.1 allows for deviation from the guidelines based on the following factors:
1. Actual monetary support for other children or family members;
2. Arrangements regarding custody of children;
3. Imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed except income may not be imputed to custodial parent when child is not in school, child care services are not available and the cost of such child care services are not included in the calculation;
4. Debts of either party arising during the marriage for the benefit of the child;
5. Debts incurred for the production of income;
6. Direct payments ordered by the court for health care coverage;
7. Extraordinary capital gains;
8. Age, physical and mental condition of the child;
9. Independent financial resources of the child;
10. Standard of living established during the marriage;
11. Earning capacity, obligations and needs, and financial resources of each parent;
12. Education and training of the parties;
13. Contributions (non-monetary and monetary) to the well-being of the family;
14. Provisions with regard to marital property;
15. Tax consequences to the parties regarding claims for dependent children and child care expenses;
16. Written agreement between the parties as to amount of child support;
17. Agreed pendente lite decree (temporary support); and
18. Other relevant factors.
Child support is owed to any unemancipated child who is a full time high school student who has not reached the age of 19. Support is not awardable beyond the child’s 18th birthday or high school graduation, whichever is later. Further, parents cannot be forced to pay for college expenses unless agreed to in writing by the parties.