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Friday, February 27, 2015

Child and Spousal Support in Virginia: Part 1

     Support, custody, visitation, property distribution, and fault are the major areas of the law attorneys deal with in Divorce Court. Issues related to spousal and child support are some of the most complicated and contentious portions of the law. An elaborate set of laws define how the court determines whether and for how much one spousal must pay for support. The first area of support that I would like to talk about is Child Support.

     Virginia has adopted guidelines which define how much a parent will have to pay when it comes to child support. Clients will often ask whether or not they can waive child support. The answer is no! Child support is considered to be the right of the child, and the state of Virginia does not allow parents to contract out of child support. Some the factors that the court considers in setting child support include; "Who is the primary caregiver of the children?", "How much is each parents' gross revenue?", and "How many children are there of the marriage?"

     The Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court or Circuit Court must normally apply these questions to a series of guidelines. There are different figures that come out based on whether or not it is split custody, sole custody, or a surrender of custody. The court will then determine how much each parent would normally be getting, and force the parent with less custody to pay their share of the support.

     Should there be an equal share of custody, the court will take the amount of money owed in the guidelines based on gross income and multiply that by 1.4. That amount will then be multiplied by the percentage of income each parent provide to the calculation. The lower amount of money owed is the one that is normally paid. To simplify; If 100$ of support is owed, then the total amount would be $140 for shared custody. If Husband contributes 60% and Wife contributes 40%, then Wife owes $56 and Husband owes $84. These two numbers are subtracted from each other, and the total left is how much Wife ultimately pays. Therefore, Wife will pay $28. These numbers may be subject to change based on certain financial and medical needs, and an attorney will need to review the case.

     However, the court does not necessarily have to follow the guidelines when assigning child support. There are some situations in which the court will provide a departure from these mandatory guidelines to determine whether or not there should be child support. Some of these considerations include; special needs of the child, special needs of the parents, and financial obligations of the couple. Obtaining a departure from the child support guidelines is incredibly hard, and most judges do not want to do this. In order to obtain a departure, you must hire an attorney.

     This is merely a brief introduction into the area of child support. There are more factors than I have listed in this brief description. Please contact an attorney if you have additional questions regarding this complex area of law.

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