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  • The Rights and Responsibilities of Both Parents in the Child Support Process

    In Virginia, each parent is obligated to support their child financially. Divorced couples who share kids must pay a specific percentage of their income in child support to cover necessary expenses, such as housing, food, medical care, and childcare.

    However, both parents contributing to their child’s financial support doesn’t necessarily mean each parent must give the other portions of their paychecks or pay equal shares of expenses every month. Typically, Commonwealth law assumes the custodial parent, who primarily lives with the child, pays essential costs related to caring for the child. The noncustodial parent is required to pay child support on a predetermined schedule. 

    The Obligation to Pay Support and the Right to Receive Support

    Since both parents are responsible for supporting their children, each person will be responsible for a certain amount based on the number of children they have and the income they contribute each month.

    Virginia Code § 20-108.2 provides a formula for determining child support. You can refer to the monthly basic child support obligations schedule to calculate your monthly payments depending on your gross monthly income and the number of children you have.

    For example, if you have one child and make $400 a month, the monthly payment you are obligated to make toward child support is $78.

    However, that figure is an estimate. Depending on the child custody agreement, the court might not require you to pay the full amount.

    If the divorce decree contains a sole custody arrangement, child support obligations are determined by adding the basic monthly obligation based on income, work-related childcare costs, and expenses for healthcare coverage. Each parent splits the total obligation proportionately according to their monthly gross income. The noncustodial parent pays a higher percentage than the custodial parent.

    Deviating from the Child Support Guidelines

    A judge can deviate from the child support guidelines if they believe applying the guideline is unfair to a parent or child. However, they must first consider various factors affecting each parent’s ability to pay support and the child’s best interests before ordering a higher or lower amount of child support. These factors can include:

    • Debts incurred for the benefit of the child
    • Written child support agreement
    • Benefits a parent receives while voluntarily underemployed or unemployed except in specific situations
    • Support for other family members
    • Each parent’s financial resources, earning capacity, special needs, and debts
    • Education expenses, life insurance, or other court-ordered obligations
    • Independent financial resources of the child
    • Tax consequences
    • Child custody arrangements, including the cost of visitation
    • The child’s standard of living during their parents’ marriage
    • Earning potential or marital property
    • Child’s special needs resulting from any medical, physical, or emotional condition
    • Extraordinary capital gains, such as from selling the marital home
    • Additional factors regarding fairness

    Duration of Child Support Payments

    Child support obligations end when the child turns 18 or is legally emancipated. However, a child support order can continue for a child over 18 if they are:

    • Living in the home of the parent receiving or seeking child support;
    • A full-time high school student; and
    • Not self-supporting.

    In this case, child support payments will continue until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever happens first.

    The court might order child support or continued payments for children over 18 if they are:

    • Unable to live independently and support themselves;
    • Permanently and severely physically or mentally disabled, and the disability existed before turning 18 or 19; and
    • Living in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support.

    Learn About Your Rights in Child Support Cases

    Child support is often necessary after a divorce. You should understand your rights and obligations under Commonwealth law to ensure you pay or receive a fair amount.

    At Anchor Legal Group, PLLC we provide dependable representation and guidance to Virginia Beach clients undergoing the complex legal process of divorce. Call us at 757-529-000 for a consultation with an experienced Child Support Attorney to learn more about child support in Virginia.