This is the next post in my series discussing how child support laws are applied in Virginia. My last post explained the basics of how standard child support is calculated. In this post I will discuss some of the variables a parent can include in the calculations that may urge the court to vary from the normally calculated amount.
Once combined gross income is calculated then a Virginia judge will consider other variables in Virginia’s child support calculation
It is possible for both the payee parent to ask for more money and the payor parent to request lower payments based on certain unique variables. A parent who is receiving child support may request more money if the child has special needs with regards to health or education. For example, if a child requires a special school, has particularly high medical costs, or requires other support, a payor parent may be asked to help pay for these needs. A payee parent may also point to a standard of living the child was given during the marriage and ask for more money to pay for activities the child is used to but that may not be deemed “essential.” For example, if the child plays the violin, takes horseback riding lessons, or attends an expensive private school, these activities may not be “necessary” but a judge may consider asking the noncustodial parent to continue to fund them regardless. However, a judge will be cautious of a parent who is asking for more child support without being able to articulate what specific activity the money is for.
There are a few reasons why a parent who is ordered to pay child support may request that the court allow him to pay less. One example if is a parent has gone into debt to pay for a child’s need and continues to make payments on the already existing expense. For example, if a child has incurred high medical expenses, and the parent currently makes monthly payments towards the bill, a judge may count that as part of the support. The court will also take into account such factors such as if a parent supports a dependent adult, or has children from another relationship that one is responsible for.
Virginia courts will consider any prior child custody agreements signed by the parents
In Virginia, if two parents sign a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage and make a child custody agreement, a judge may or may not respect the terms of the agreement. Legally, a prenuptial agreement cannot be upheld if one party has completely signed away their rights for child support. However, if a child custody agreement has been previously made, and the agreement reasonably looks after the best interest of the children involved, it is likely that a judge will agree to the terms of the contract.
If you are unsure if you are being paid enough child support, or are concerned you are paying too much, it is important to talk to an attorney about the issue. Contact us today for a consultation.