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Calculating Child Support Under Virginia Guidelines

Child Support in General

When a child’s parents are separated, the Virginia family code protects the minor child’s interest in receiving financial support from both parents. Therefore, under Virginia law, both parents have a legal duty to care and provide for their child until they reach an age at which they can independently support themselves.

This article reviews how child support is calculated pursuant to the guidelines established under Virginia’s domestic relations code.

Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines

Under Section 20-108.2 of Virginia’s domestic relations code, the total monthly child support obligation for a child is determined based on a “Schedule of Monthly Basic Child Support Obligations.”

Virginia Code, § 20-108.2 determines the total monthly support obligation based on:

  1. The parents’ combined monthly gross Income; and
  2. The total number of minor children.

Calculating Gross Income

“Gross income” is defined as “all income from all sources, and shall include, but not be limited to, income from:

  • Salaries,
  • Wages,
  • Commissions,
  • Royalties,
  • Bonuses,
  • Dividends,
  • Severance Pay,
  • Pensions,
  • Interest,
  • Trust Income,
  • Annuities,
  • Capital Gains,
  • Social Security Benefits [subject to exceptions],
  • Workers’ compensations benefits
  • Unemployment benefits,
  • Disability Insurance Benefits,
  • Veterans Benefits,
  • Spousal support,
  • Rental income,
  • Gifts, prizes, or awards.”

Va. Code Ann. § 21-108.2(C).

Deduction from Gross Income

Parents may deduct certain items from their gross income, such as:

  • Reasonable business expenses for self-employed parents;
  • Public assistance and social services benefits under § 63.2-100;
  • Federal supplemental security income benefits;
  • Child support received;
  • Spousal support paid under a court order or written settlement; or
  • “Secondary employment income” from the child support payor.

“Secondary employment income” refers to income a parent receives from a job he or she had to get in order to discharge a court-ordered obligation for child support back pay (known as “arrearage”) if the parent is still making payments under such an order.

Calculating Child Support

Once the parent’s combined monthly gross income is established, the matrix under Section 20.108.2(B) lists the total child support obligation depending on the total number of children. The guidelines list amounts for 1 to 6 total children in separate columns.

For example, imagine John and Jane have 2 children. John earns about $85,000 a year – or $7,083 a month, while Jane earns $88,000 a year – or about $7,333 a month. Assuming no deductions apply, John and Jane’s combined monthly gross income would be approximately $14,416.

To determine the total child support obligation, John and Jane check the schedule under Virginia Code, Section 20.108.2(B). Under the first column, they should find the row for their combined income bracket, which is $14,400-$14,449.  In that row, they should check the amount listed under the column for “two children.” Under that column, the total child support obligation is $1,999 per month. Since the combined income is $16 more than the lower end of the bracket ($14,400), it’s safe to estimate that John and Jane owe about $2,000 a month in child support.

The Parent’s Proportionate Share

Sole Custody. Each parent’s individual child support obligation depends on the custody arrangement involved. If one parent has sole custody of the child, the non-custodial parent’s obligation is determined by their proportionate share of the combined income.

For example, if Jane ($88,000/year or $7,333/month) has sole custody over children, then John ($85,000/year or $7,083/month) owes Jane his proportionate share of the obligation ($7,083 over $14,416) which is roughly 49% or $980 a month.

Split Custody. If parents have split custody, the calculation for the parent’s proportionate share remains the same, but applies instead to the amount determined for 1 child per the Schedule of Monthly Basic Child Support Obligations under Section 20.108.2.

For example, if Jane has custody of one child, while John has custody over the other, they must check the Schedule of Monthly Basic Child Support Obligations for 1 child, which is $1,342. Jane owes John 51% of $1,342 or about $685, while John owes Jane roughly $657. Instead of having each parent write a check to the other each month, the parent with the higher income writes a check for the difference between the parent’s respective obligations. As a result, Jane would write John a monthly check for $28 (or $685-657).

Shared Custody. If the parents have a shared custody arrangement where the non-custodial parent has visitation rights for the children that exceed 90 days per year, the child support obligation is calculated by the parent’s ratio of total custody days.

For example, if Jane has custody over both children for 274 days (75% of the year), John would only have to pay $500 a month in child support (25% of $2,000).

Promoting Children’s Best Interests for Virginia Families

When families go through a divorce, the law prioritizes the interests of any minor children affected by the divorce. When a court issues child support orders, they may remain effective for several years. To ensure that the court issues a fair child support order, you should consult with a qualified Virginia Beach child support attorney.

When you retain me, Keri A. Markiewicz, as your legal counsel, you’ll benefit from over 20 years of successful family law litigation practice, including handling child support matters. You can rest assured I will devote my efforts to finding a just and equitable resolution to your case while putting your children’s best interests at the forefront of our priorities.

Call me at (757) 204-6991 or visit my website to schedule a free initial consultation regarding your child support issues.