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Child Support

The courts in Virginia or The Virginia Department of Social Services’ Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) are responsible for providing child support services in the state. The DCSE can also file a child support application on your behalf if you receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Regardless of the marital status of the parents, the state holds each parent responsible for supporting their children in terms of health care and other expenses by covering a certain share of the total child support amount. Using a set of guidelines, courts calculate the child support amount by determining both parents’ combined incomes. If you have a child, or children, and do not live with the other parent, you can ask the noncustodial parent to pay some of the child’s expenses.

Whether you are seeking to collect support for a child or yourself, or if you would like to modify an obligation you owe, it is important to work with an attorney who can best protect your rights. At Williams Stone, PC, we can help. We work with clients throughout Northern Virginia with child custody cases.

Income For Withholding Child Support

Virginia provides for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. The parents are required to provide appropriate evidence to support the level of their income as specified in front of the court or DCSE. The earnings that are considered for estimating the child support cover a lot more than a monthly salary or wages; they also include:

  • Royalties
  • Interest
  • Trust income
  • Capital gains
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Pensions
  • Dividends
  • Veterans benefits
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Severance pay
  • Rental income
  • Social Security payments
  • Spousal support
  • Disability insurance
  • Unemployment insurance benefits
  • Prizes and/or other winnings

Also, some particular sections of income such as benefits from social services programs, federal Supplemental Security Income, public assistance or any existing child support that a parent receives can be excluded when calculating the total earnings. Also, you can exclude the amount you pay as spousal support if any. You can exclude your new spouse’s income from the total estimation if you remarry. In case you have a child with a different parent, any child support you receive or contribute can be deducted.

Guidelines For Calculating Child Support

The total amount of child support is determined by comparing the total gross income of the parents to a child support guidelines table or the Basic Child Support Obligation Schedule. Up until July 1, 2014, if your monthly combined income was $0 to $600, then child support was $65 per month and went up from there. This has now been slightly revised to $68 for one child for those at an income level of $0 to $350 combined monthly gross income. Also, if the combined income was more than $10,000 a month, an additional percentage (between 1 and 10%) was reserved for child support depending on the amount over the specified income. This has been revised to what you see below.

As of recent revisions to Virginia Code Section 20-108.2, there were (2) key changes to note:

  1. The new formula specifies a combined gross monthly income of $35,000, rather than the prior ceiling of $10,000 and the simple percentage calculations. This means that anyone paying child support saw an increase ranging from $200 to $400 when this revision took effect.
  2. The $250 annual obligation required by the custodial parent for the child or children’s unreimbursed medical expenses has been eliminated.

In the case of having children with more than one parent, the child support is estimated for each parent separately. You can seek child support for a child or children only from the parent you are having that child with, i.e., you are not eligible to request child support from the other parent with whom you have your other children.

Division Of Child Support

According to your custody arrangements, the estimated amount of child support is fairly divided between both parents.

Sole custody arrangements: In this case, the child lives with one parent only, the court takes the combined income of both parents and works out the proportion each contributes.

Split custody arrangements: Here, the custody of more than one child is divided between the parents, and each parent’s proportionate share is calculated similarly to the cases of sole custody. However, the parent with the smaller percentage receives the difference from the parent with the larger percentage.

Shared custody arrangements: In a shared custody situation, one of the parents has a child’s custody or visitation for a period of over 90 days in a year. The child support amount is calculated according to the ratio of sharing custody and visitation between the parents. In case, a parent earns less than the other parent but spends a higher percentage of time with the child, then they can request a sole custody calculation from the court.

The Deviation Factors

On finding the child support amount estimated by the guidelines is not in the best interest of a parent or the child, the state allows either parent to challenge the guidelines. The court can deviate from the amount if it finds that the presumptive amount has been rebutted. The factors that may decide whether to deviate from the determined child support amount are listed below:

  • Monetary support for other children or family members
  • Child custody arrangements combined with the cost of visitation
  • Imputed income to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed
  • Debts arising during the marriage for the child’s benefit
  • Court-ordered payments for the child’s benefits, also including life insurance and education expenses
  • Extraordinary capital gains, for example, those arising from selling the marital house
  • Any special emotional, medical or physical needs of the child
  • The child’s independent financial resources
  • Standard of living for the child at the time of marriage
  • The earning potential, resources, debts and special needs of the parents
  • Earning capacity of the marital property
  • Tax consequences to the parents
  • A consent order or written agreement regarding child support
  • Any other factors essential to fairness

Modifying The Child Support Order

The child support order is reviewed by the DCSE at a regular interval of 36 months. Generally, the obligation for the child support order ends when the child graduates from high school or turns 18 years of age, whichever occurs later. A child will be ineligible for child support if the child marries. In the case of a shared custody arrangement, the order can be amended on the grounds of one parent consistently failing to take custody or visit. A parent can request alterations to the order from the court in case the gross income of one of the parents changes significantly; when the number of children under the order needs to be changed; extra medical or dental expenses; change in the day care expenses by one-fourth of the original; or when the health insurance costs experience a change.


At Williams Stone, PC, our attorneys will take the time to get to know you and your situation. We understand family law, and we do not treat an important situation such as child support as just a legal formality. Throughout Northern Virginia, we are recognized for the level of superior legal services we provide in Virginia family law matters. Our lawyers take an assertive, compassionate approach to working with clients, and we will make sure your voice is heard. Contact us today.