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In Virginia, both parents are expected to pay for the financial support of their children, regardless of whether the parents have ever been married or whether the non-custodial parent has visitation rights with the children. A custodial parent may petition the court for child support and may turn to the courts for assistance in enforcing child support orders.

Determining Child Support in Virginia

Virginia has established uniform guidelines regarding the amount of child support that a non-custodial parent must pay to a custodial parent. The amount of child support dictated by the guidelines is presumed to be the correct amount of support. Some of these guidelines changed in 2014, so modifications may need to be made if you have not recently revisited child support.

Virginia child support laws are complex, so contacting an experienced Virginia divorce and family law attorney is often your best course of action.

When you and your spouse are negotiating a child support agreement outside of court, you will need to follow these guidelines or explain why your alternative support plan is a better one.

The basic Virginia child support guidelines determine child support as follows:

  • The gross incomes of both parents are added to arrive at the family income. A parties’ gross income can be adjusted for spousal support/alimony, as well as support for other children and other factors.

  • A table outlines how much parents at different income levels are presumed to need for the support of their child or children. For each income level, a basic support obligation is dictated for parents with one, two, three, four, five or six children. Note that in 2014, Virginia recalculated parents’ child support financial obligations for the first time in 20 years.

  • Work-related childcare expenses and the cost of health insurance are added to the basic support obligation.

  • The total child support obligation is apportioned between parents based on their respective income shares. For instance, a parent who earns 75 percent of the family’s combined income would pay 75 percent of the total support obligation. The non-custodial parent will pay the amount of his support obligation to the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent will also pay a portion of the child’s reasonable and necessary unreimbursed medical and dental expenses.

It is important to note, however, that visitation arrangements and custodial time may affect the manner in which child support is calculated.

College tuition

Virginia courts do not require parties to pay for college tuition because once a child is emancipated, the non-custodial parent typically has no further obligation to support the child. However, parents may negotiate an agreement to pay college tuition and, once their agreement is made legal as part of the divorce process, the court will enforce the obligation of the parent who agreed to pay.

Getting Legal Help

Child support is a fundamental right for all children in Virginia. If you are going through a separation or a divorce, Nichols Zauzig Sandler P.C. can help you understand the Virginia child support laws and assist you in protecting your rights and the rights of your children. Contact us to schedule a consultation. With three convenient locations in Woodbridge, Tysons Corner and Stafford, we are available to clients throughout Northern Virginia.