How does a court determine your child support payments?

Do you know how much your child support will cost? Courts use a general calculation to determine child support, but do you know what else could affect it?

What factors play a role in how courts determine child support?

Until your child turns 19 years old or graduates high school, you are legally obligated to pay child support. Those payments may or may not stay at the same amount until then.

Virginia is an Income Shares Model state, meaning child support is modeled around what a child would typically receive if you stayed married. It is based on the following as stated by law:

  • Both parents’ gross monthly income
  • Number of children
  • Custody arrangement (where the children live and for how long)
  • The costs of work-related child care
  • The costs of health insurance for the child
  • Pre-existing child support/custody arrangements
  • Permanent, unanticipated life-changing circumstances

For example, if your children live with your ex full-time and you only have monthly visitation, you will pay more than if you share physical custody.

Can the payments change?

Changing the details around child support payments can mean costly court battles.

However, if either parent or the child experiences a material change in circumstances, you can petition the court to modify child support payments. These material changes could include a change in employment or income levels, change in child care costs, or if your child suffers an unexpected medical emergency or otherwise requires additional funds for specialized care. If you are concerned about how a judge will calculate your child support payments, you may want to explore your legal options. Creating a flexible and comprehensive arrangement now can help you avoid costly court battles later.

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