For divorcing parents, child support is one of the biggest financial considerations they may have – whether they’re on the paying or receiving end of the equation. It’s hard to know exactly how to budget for post-divorce life, after all, until you know how much money you’ll have coming in each month.
With that in mind, there’s no quick answer to the question. The state uses a complicated formula to determine the exact dollar amount a parent will have to pay. With that being said, however, it may help you to know more about what goes into the calculations.
Your custody situation plays a big role in the calculations
Before any dollar amount of support can be fixed, custody arrangements for the children in question have to be established – because the formula takes that into account. Sole physical custody means that a child lives with one parent and only visits the other, while shared custody means that the parents each have the child for a significant portion of the year.
Once that’s established, the basic formula works like this:
- The combined monthly gross income of both parents is calculated. This may be different than the gross amounts they see on their paycheck because the figure can be adjusted downward for things like support for other children or the receipt of certain government benefits.
- The basic monthly child support obligation of the parents toward the children is determined according to the state table. This can be adjusted upward for things like necessary childcare and insurance cost.
- Each parent is allocated a certain percentage of that support obligation based on their incomes. For example, if one parent earns 75% of the family’s income, they’d be responsible for 75% of the child’s basic support.
- Finally, custody arrangements are figured into the equation. In sole custody situations, the noncustodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent. In shared custody, which is common, the figures have to be adjusted based on each parent’s time with their child.
It’s important to note that this is a highly simplified overview of the child support calculation process in Virginia and that the actual calculation may be more complex depending on the specific circumstances of a family’s situation. Seeking legal guidance can provide greater clarity to individuals who need to apply the law to their unique circumstances.