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When can a Virginia court deviate from child support guidelines?

Like other states in the nation, Virginia has statutory guidelines for calculating child support. However, every person’s family and economic situation is different. Therefore, it is possible to rebut the presumption that the guidelines will be followed.

Per Virginia law, the child support guidelines can be rebutted if they are inappropriate or unjust. A deviation must be supported by evidence of the following factors with regards to each parent’s obligations, ability of each parent to make payments and the child’s best interests.

One factor is the financial support the parents pay with regards to other members — or former members — of their family. Another factor is child custody arrangements, keeping in mind the expenses associated with travel for visitation periods.

A third factor is whether income will be imputed if a parent purposely is under-employed or unemployed, although this income will not be imputed to the parent who enjoys child custody when school is not in session or child care is unavailable. Keep in mind that this imputed income will be considered in the light of the parent’s efforts, by attending school or training, to retain or maximize their earning potential. Child care costs associated with a parent’s attendance in school or training to retain or maximize their earning potential will also be considered.

If either parent has debts incurred while married for the child’s benefit will be considered. If a parent is legally required to have life insurance policy for the child’s benefit, direct payments for this policy will also be considered. If there are extraordinary capital gains or if the child has independent financial resources, these will be considered. Another factor is whether the child, due to a physical, emotional or medical impairment has special needs.

The standard of living the child enjoyed while the parents were married is another factor, as is each parent’s special needs, financial resources, obligations and earning capacity. Tax consequences with regards to the child may be considered. Finally, if the parties agreed in writing to a support amount, this will be considered.

As this shows, there are many reasons why a deviation from the statutory child support guidelines may be warranted. In the end, though, it is important that a fair and appropriate amount is reached, for the sake of the child.

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