Child support cases can be complex. Judges take into account the many considerations of awarding Virginia child support. In limited circumstances, the court is allowed to consider external factors in order to decide whether to deviate from the standard calculation guidelines based at the discretion of the court.
However, cases will usually look at the same guidelines and considerations when awarding child support unless it is determined that the guidelines are not applicable to a specific case. A seasoned Virginia child support attorney can help illuminate the facts of the case and help the parties involved reach a ruling that gives the kids the aid they deserve.
Common Formula Used in Court
There is a formula that the court is required to use when determining child support. Considerations of awarding Virginia child support according to this formula include:
- Both parents’ pre-tax income
- The number of children that the two parties have together
- The number of children that each of the parties may have with someone from another relationship who they are supporting
- Child care cost
- Health insurance cost for the children
Issues Seen in Virginia
In order for child support to be determined by a court, the two parents in the case must be living separately. This is one of the main considerations of awarding Virginia child support. In these cases, child support typically comes into play when there is not an equal time split of custody between the parents and one parent has more custodial time than the other. Another common issue that arises during these cases is when one party is employed and one is unemployed, or where the two parents involved have a disparity in their income.
When one party is paying a lot more in terms of work-related daycare costs than the other, there also tends to be difficulty. In many cases, child support will be ordered but these are the aspects of cases that one will frequently see disputed between parents.
Obligations of Step Parents and Adoptive Parents
In the eyes of Virginia law, there are no formal financial obligation on the part of a step parent. As long as a child has a legal or biological parent, they are the people responsible for supporting the child. In reality, step parents often do provide financial support but that is not something that a court would have jurisdiction to order in any event, because the law does not impose that obligation on the step parent. However, a parent who adopts a child is essentially stepping into the shoes legally of the biological parent who is being replaced.
An adoptive parent is going to have the same financial obligations with respect to the child as a biological parent would have. A step parent does not necessarily, in terms of child support, have a legal connection to the child, where an adoptive parent absolutely does.
Child Support Eligibility
In Virginia, a recipient of child support is usually only eligible to continue receiving support until the child turns 18. However, in cases where an 18-year-old child is still attending high school, has not yet completed high school and is still living with the parent receiving support, then support will continue until the child either turns 19 years old or until that child graduates high school, whichever happens first.
The only exception to this age limit for in child support considerations comes into play in cases where the child involved has a disability of some sort. If there is a child who is disabled is not able to support themselves because of their disability, then child support can be ordered to be paid beyond when the child in question turns 18-years-old.
Provisions for Measuring the Finances of the Parents
The court is required to consider not only the income of parties involved, but also any independent financial resources that they may have. In addition, there are certain procedures called discovery, through which the parties have the ability to make the other side provide certain documents and evidence of what their financial situation truly is. This system is in place to ensure everyone has been given the opportunity to explore the complete financial circumstances of both parties by the time the two parties walk into the courtroom for a final determination in child support.
Availability of Support from Relatives
Some Virginia child support cases may involve parties who have minor children that have family members close by and those family members might be able to provide good, stable, and consistent child care for the children at a lower cost or no cost. In those cases, the court will give the availability of those arrangements consideration in deciding on child support.
A family member who lives close by or sometimes even in the home of one of the parent may be available to watch the child while the parent is at work. In that circumstance, the court considers this added support. That is, instead of including in the child support guideline, say, a $1,500 cost per month for child care, the court may not charge anything because of the fact that there was somebody willing and able to take care of the child for the cause.
Role of the Attorney
The considerations of awarding Virginia child support can be variable and complex. An attorney will have the experience working within the legal system to make best use of the procedures available for discovering information about other party’s financial circumstances, income, and other considerations of child support. The help of an attorney can be particularly valuable when one party is not properly employed or earning to their potential. A family law attorney will know the nuances of child support law and be able to assist the party in making a solid case based on complete information received from the other side.