How child support orders are decided in Virginia
By law all decisions about child support in Virginia must follow the state's Child Support Guidelines.
The basic idea is this: children whose parents live apart should have the same level of support that they would have if their parents lived together.
So the guidelines look at:
- The needs of the child
- The combined incomes of the parents
- How involved each parent is in raising the child
The guidelines also recognize the basic needs of the parents.
The child support formula
Everyone's finances are complicated. So the Guidelines use a complex mathematical formula to decide the specific amount that parents have to pay every month. The law also assumes that both parents are responsible for the child's medical expenses.
The formula for deciding the child support amount uses information parents give in this worksheet.
The formula looks at such information as:
- Income from all sources for all the parties in the case (usually, the two parents)
- Spousal support payments
- Daycare expenses for the child
- Health insurance costs for the child
Under the current formula, the minimum payment amount for an order of support in Virginia is $68 per month.
Why Virginia uses child support guidelines
Virginia uses guidelines to make sure child support orders are fair and consistent.
The state believes that mothers and fathers should contribute a fair amount to the cost of raising their child. It also wants the amount that parents pay to be consistent across the state.
How Virginia's child support guidelines stay up to date
The law requires that Virginia update its Child Support Guidelines every 4 years.
To do that, the state appoints a panel of 15 members. That panel includes custodial and noncustodial parents and a child advocate.
The guidelines also rely on economic studies of the cost of raising a child in Virginia, especially a federal government report called the Consumer Expenditures Survey.
Where to go for help calculating child support
Call our Customer Service Center at 1-800-468-8894 toll-free. Child support staff are available to speak to you Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You can also email us.