When parents of minor children get divorced, the court will determine how much child support the non-custodial parent will have to pay to the custodial parent. This decision is based on the total income of both parents and uses a standard schedule to determine the monthly payments. Custody arrangements are also factored into the decision. It’s important to understand that, even though the Commonwealth uses a standard formula to assign child support payments, their decision is not necessarily set in stone. As your divorce and child custody lawyer, I can make sure all factors have been accurately considered in arriving at the child support order.
How the Formula Works
First, the gross family income is calculated, taking into account each parent’s salary, government benefits, other court-ordered support, and additional sources of income. Once the gross family income is calculated, the chart will be consulted to find the per-child monthly payment. For example, the median household income in Virginia is around $75,000 per year, or $6,250 per month. According to the child support table, that means child support for an average family with one child would be $835, for two children, it would be $1,246, and for three children, it would be $1,473.
Who pays and how much they pay depends on each parent’s share of the income and who is the custodial parent. If our example couple has two children and the non-custodial parent earns 65% of the household income, then that parent will pay $809 per month to the custodial parent. This figure will be adjusted by the court if there is a shared or split custody arrangement. In other words, if the children spend half of their time with each parent, that will change the amount of court-ordered support. However, the parent earning more will still have to pay support to the other parent, even if custody is 50/50.
When You Disagree With the Court’s Decision
The formula system is designed to be equitable, but it also fails to take into account extenuating circumstances. That is why it is possible to appeal a Virginia child support ruling. If you believe the child support order in your case is unfair, you can work with a lawyer to present your reasons to the court. A few potentially valid reasons for appealing a child support order include:
- Miscalculation of income. In some cases, it comes out that one parent has underreported their income, so the combined monthly gross income is too low and so is the child support order. If you can present evidence of this to the judge, the support order can be adjusted.
- Having a child with special needs. The Virginia chart does not account for the added expense of having a child with special needs. If this information was not presented during the initial hearing—or was not adequately accounted for—evidence can be submitted in an appeal to adjust the support.
- Unique expenses for the child. Children who play sports at a high level, attend private schools or other programs, or have special medical needs might require a higher level of support that was not considered at the initial hearing.
- Other factors. As your child support legal team, we will help you determine the true financial needs of your children and present a compelling case for a modified child support order if necessary.
Divorce is devastating for children. Ultimately, child support orders are about creating minimal disruption in a child’s life by allowing them to live the life to which they are accustomed. That means living in a similar home and neighborhood, continuing activities, and going to the same school. We can help you achieve that goal.
James E. Short, PLC Is Here for You
The sooner you consult our Virginia family law attorney in the child support process, the more likely it is that we can help you get a fair and appropriate child support order. Whether you are the custodial parent who thinks you should be getting more in child support payments from the other parent or the non-custodial parent who thinks you should be paying less due to your financial situation, a family lawyer can help. When you contact James Short, he will explain your rights and options and help you figure out the best way to support your children. Contact us online or call our office at 757-410-5042.