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How child support is calculated in Virginia

In some ways, divorce in Virginia is more of an art than a science. The spouses must work out a division of assets that is fair and satisfactory to both sides, or the judge will do it for them.

But one common aspect of divorce is subject to a carefully developed formula. In many cases, the divorcing couple has children together. Depending on their individual circumstances, one parent may receive sole or majority child custody, and will seek child support from the other parent.

In those cases, Virginia courts calculate what the noncustodial parent must pay based on the results of a form called the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. The user enters figures like:

  • Their monthly gross income
  • Their ex-spouse’s monthly gross income
  • The amount of alimony being paid, if any
  • Legally allowed deductions

“Legally allowed deductions” include “reasonable business expenses” for parents who are self-employed, or own a business in partnership or a closely-held arrangement. Half of self-employment taxes paid can also be deducted, according to the worksheet’s instructions.

After determining the parents’ combined monthly income, the number of children involved, which parents makes the greater percentage of their combined income and other factors, the worksheet produces what each parent’s child support payment would be.

Ideally, divorce would be straightforward and relatively quick. Of course, human beings are involved, and there are probably going to be wrinkles in the spouses’ individual case that affect how the case goes. An experienced divorce attorney can help navigate a client through the process.


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