Does the judge have to follow Virginia’s child support guidelines in setting the amount of child support I pay?

Child Support Spelled Out With Fridge MagnetsIn the Commonwealth of Virginia, both parents of a child are responsible for supporting him whether or not they are married. In most cases, the amount of child support an individual must pay is based on child support guidelines. However, there are exceptions when the judge can set a child support payment that is different than what is in the guidelines.

When the Family Court Does Not Have to Follow Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines

The child support guidelines use a formula that takes into account the number of children, the income of both parents, and child custody arrangement to set the amount of child support that must be paid. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support required under these guidelines is correct.

However, it is possible to challenge the child support guidelines and request that the judge order a higher or lower amount be paid. Both parents have the right to request this. The judge will consider these factors in determining whether to deviate from the guidelines:

  • Support provided to other family members
  • Custody arrangements for the children, including the cost of travel for visitation
  • Imputed income for a parent who is voluntarily not employed or is underemployed
  • Debts that a parent is incurring for the child’s care
  • Life insurance, education, or other expenses for the care of a child that has been ordered by the judge
  • Large capital gains, for example from the sale of a marital home
  • Any special needs that a child has
  • Child’s standard of living during the marriage
  • Child’s independent financial resources, if any
  • Both parents’ earning capacity, debts, and special needs
  • Provisions made for marital property that has income-producing potential or earns income
  • Tax consequences, including child support exemptions and child tax credits, for each parent
  • Any written agreement between the parents about child support obligations
  • Other factors that affect the fairness of the child support payment to the parents and children

It is not easy to rebut the presumption that the child support guidelines should be followed in Norfolk. If you plan to challenge this amount, you need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. To discuss your situation, call our office to schedule your free consultation today.