Don’t Fall Prey to Erroneous Child Support Calculations! Virginia Child Support Law Can Be Complex! Don’t Allow Yourself or Your Children to Be Cheated!
Virginia child support law is often thought of by attorneys to be one of the more straightforward and uncontentious areas of Virginia family law. After all, Virginia law (Section 20-108.2 of the Code) provides us a child support guideline that yields a “presumptive” amount of monthly child support based on the number of children and the respective gross monthly incomes of each party.
The Virginia child support guidelines then require us to take into account the costs of work related child care and the costs of providing medical insurance for the children. Once all these numbers are known, Section 20-108.2 yields a “presumptive” monthly child support number that the Virginia Court is required to apply, unless one party presents evidence for the Court to “deviate” from the presumptive amount. What could be easier, right?
Well, in many cases this is true—child support is worked out by agreement of the parties by simply exchanging income, health insurance, and day care cost information, and having the attorneys “run the guidelines”.
But as it turns out child support can sometimes be a very contentious and sometimes confusing area of Virginia family law. The determination of the opposing party’s gross monthly income may not be so “straightforward”, particularly if that party’s income is cash based, or is generated from a small business with in-house bookkeeping (or no bookkeeping).
Also, what if the opposing party is not working but is capable of earning income? This raises the question of “imputation of income” to the non-working parent, which can be one of the reasons for the court to impose a “deviation” from the presumptive child support amount. This is often one of the most contentious issues in child support law, and can even involve the use of “expert witnesses” to testify about the non-working parent’s earning capacity.
The cost of “work related child care” can also be controversial. For example, should this include the costs of summer camps? And how long should a child be deemed to need “day care?” What if free day care is available through a family member but the parents disagree over whether that person should provide the day care?
The division of custodial time can also affect the issue of child support, when the “non-custodial parent” has 90 days or more of custodial time per calendar year. When that threshhold is crossed, a “shared custody” child support guideline is used, which can engender disagreements over the custodial time actually being exercised by each party. The division of dependent tax exemptions is another area of child support that often can cause dissension.
The bottom line is, don’t trust your child support to guesswork or speculation about what the law requires. Many people have tried to “run the guidelines” themselves and inadvertently short-changed or over-charged themselves (or their children.)
Get an experienced child support attorney on your side who knows the “ins and outs” of the child support statutes and who can help you avoid errors that may cost you or your children hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.