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Virginia Child Support Attorneys Advocating for Their Clients
State laws impose on both parents an obligation to contribute toward the financial support of their children whether they are married to each other or not, and Virginia is no different. Much of what people read or hear about support of children in the commonwealth refers to calculations based upon a standardized formula, but there are variables in each case that could affect the amount of child support awarded. The Virginia child support attorneys at The Law Offices of John W. Lee, P.C., have the experience to make certain the Hampton Roads clients they represent are treated fairly whether they are paying support or receiving it.
Determining the Income of Each of the Parents
The first step Hampton Roads child support lawyers must address is determining the income each parent has available to contribute to a child’s support. When necessary, an attorney can use a subpoena duces tecum and other methods to compel someone to disclose income information. Included among the sources of income that might be available for child support are the following:
- Salary and wages earned
- Severance pay
- Social Security retirement or disability
- Workers’ compensation
- State or private disability
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Military retirement benefits
Other sources of income taken into consideration in computing child support include rental income, self-employment income and spousal support. Spousal support payments are considered income to the person receiving them, but they are deducted from the income of the person making the payments.
Public assistance and Supplemental Security Income payments are not included in a person’s income for child support calculation purposes. Support received for a child from another marriage or relationship is not included as income to the parent receiving the payments, and it is excluded from the income of a person making the child support payments.
Using the Child Support Guidelines
The guidelines Newport News parents use to determine child support are the same as the ones used by parents in other parts of the commonwealth and are found in Section 20-108.2 of the Code of Virginia. The chart has combined gross monthly income amounts listed down its left side starting with $0-$350 and ending at $35,000. Combined incomes in excess of $35,000 require increasing the chart amount with a percentage of the income exceeding $35,000.
The chart lists numbers of children from one to six in columns across the top of the page. The basic monthly child support obligation is found by first locating the parents’ combined gross income in the income column and going across the page to find the support figure in the column under the appropriate number of children. For example, a couple with a combined gross monthly income of $2,000 and four children would be obligated to contributed $709 each month as basic child support.
Custody Arrangements Affect Child Support Calculations
Each parent is responsible for paying his or her fair share of what the law calculates as being the basic child support each month. How the support obligation is split between the parents depends upon the custody arrangement either agreed to by them or ordered by a judge if the parents are unable to agree. There are three possible custody arrangements for couples in Hampton or Virginia Beach:
Custody Arrangements Affect Child Support Calculations (cont.)
- Sole custody: One parent becomes the custodial parent with whom a child or children live all of the time except for visitation or parenting time spent with the noncustodial parent. The custodial parent would be the one receiving child support payments from the noncustodial parent calculated as a proportionate share of a parent’s income relative to the monthly total. For example, if the noncustodial parent’s income is $1,200 and the combined gross income is $2,000, his or her contribution toward the basic child support would be 60 percent each month.
- Split custody: This occurs when some of the children of a marriage or relationship go to live with one parent while others live with the other parent. The child support calculation is performed in the same manner as for sole custody to arrive at the amount each parent should pay.
- Shared custody: Children in a shared custody arrangement spend at least 90 days during the year living with one parent and the rest of the year with the other parent. Support obligations are based upon the percentage of time spent with each parent, but courts have the option to use the sole custody method if a parent requests it.
Payments for Child Care and Health Care
If a parent needs child care services in order to be able to work while caring for a child, Hampton Roads child support lawyers can request that its cost be added to the basic monthly support amount. The monthly cost of health care and dental insurance for the child or children can also be added to the amount needed each month for child support.
A lawyer representing a parent in a support case knows there are limitations on the services covered under medical and dental insurance policies, so it is normal practice for courts to include in support orders a provision for the parents’ payment of any costs not covered by insurance. Payment is usually shared with each person paying his or her proportionate share based on gross income.
Challenging the Amount of Child Support
Either party in a Virginia Beach or Newport News child support case can ask the court to approve an award that deviates from the amount calculated using the statutory guidelines. This is where a Hampton Roads attorney is needed to produce evidence showing the guidelines would result in an amount of child support that is unfair to either the parent or the child.
When asked to deviate from the guidelines, courts consider a number of factors to determine if it is appropriate to do so, including:
- The costs associated with visitation
- Imputed income where a parent voluntarily leaves his or her job
- Debts incurred by a parent for the care or benefit of the child
- Special needs of the child
- Financial resources available to the child
- Tax consequences
One of the factors courts may take into consideration is the existence of a written agreement signed by the parties including a child support provision.
Having an Attorney Negotiate an Agreement: the College Tuition Dilemma…
Resolving child support issues with a written agreement negotiated with the assistance of a lawyer is preferable to leaving the decision to a judge. For instance, college tuition is an expense that judges cannot order as part of child support. This is, in part, because child support is only payable until a child is 18 years of age and out of high school. If a child is still in high school, support continues until the sooner of the child’s graduation or reaching 19 years of age.
A negotiated agreement can include provision for the payment of college expenses by a parent until whatever age the parties agree upon. It can also include sections designating which of the parents is entitled to claim the children as dependents for tax purposes and deal with other tax-related issues. Our attorneys negotiate and prepare agreements incorporating the wishes of our clients. Such agreements offer more flexibility for parents than might be possible through a decision by a judge after a hearing.
A Hampton Roads Child Support Lawyer Can Help
The Law Offices of John W. Lee, P.C., has a skilled team of Virginia child support attorneys capable safeguarding the financial future of clients in all types of family law matters. Contact us today at (757) 896-0868 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Our team has more than 70 years of combined experience to put to work on behalf of our clients.
We have four Hampton Roads locations in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Chesapeake and Newport News serving the surrounding cities and counties of Poquoson, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as York, James City and Gloucester Counties.