Virginia child support calculationsChild support is more than a financial obligation; it represents the foundation upon which a child's well-being and future are built. It ensures children have the resources they need to thrive in all aspects of life regardless of the relationship between their parents.

Factors Affecting Child Support Payments

Child support calculations in Virginia are based on guidelines that consider the following factors: 

Income of both parents. The court assesses each parent's gross income, including wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, pension, and other sources of income.

Child custody arrangements. The number of overnight stays with each parent is factored into the calculation.

Support of other children. If either parent already provides support for children from a previous relationship, that support is considered.

Health insurance and childcare costs. The cost of health insurance coverage and reasonable childcare expenses are included in the calculation.

Extraordinary expenses. The court may consider extraordinary expenses related to the child's education, health care, or other necessary needs.

The court does not consider these factors:

Child's income and assets. Child support is primarily based on the income of the parents. The child's own financial resources, such as earnings or inheritance, are generally not considered in the calculation.

Expenses unrelated to basic needs. While child support covers the child's basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and medical care, it typically does not factor in extracurricular activities, educational expenses beyond basic needs, or other discretionary spending.

Parental marital status. Whether the parents are married or divorced does not impact child support calculations. Child support is determined based on each parent's financial responsibility towards their child, regardless of their marital status.

Spousal support payments. Child support and spousal support are separate legal obligations. Payments for spousal support do not affect child support calculation after a Virginia divorce.

To estimate the potential child support amount, you can use Virginia's child support worksheet, which is available on the Virginia Court website. However, remember that this is just an estimate, and the court will make the final decision based on the unique circumstances of each case.

Payment Duration

Child support payments in Virginia typically last until the child reaches the age of 18, or until the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, there are a few circumstances that may change the child support obligation:

Emancipation. Child support may end earlier if the child becomes emancipated before age 18. Emancipation can occur if the child gets married, joins the military, or becomes self-supporting.

Special needs or disabilities. If the child has special needs or disabilities that require ongoing support and care, the court may order child support to continue beyond the age of majority.

Voluntary agreements can also be made to extend child support payments. This often involves a divorced parent agreeing to provide support while a child over age 18 is a full-time college student.

Modifying a Virginia Child Support Order

Virginia courts recognize that child support agreements may need to be modified as circumstances change. Some common reasons for seeking a child support modification include a substantial increase or decrease in income for either parent, a change in custody or parenting time arrangements, or a change in the child's needs.

If you would like to seek a child support modification, gather relevant documentation such as recent pay stubs, tax returns, and proof of changes in expenses. Then, family law attorney Lu Aloupas can help you file a petition to modify child support with the appropriate court. In Virginia, this is typically done in the Circuit Court or the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in the county where the original child support order was issued.

After the petition is filed, there will be a court hearing. The judge will make a decision after reviewing the arguments presented by both parents.