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Legal Statutes: Virginia

UPDATED November 17, 2016

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Chapter 6. Divorce, Affirmation and Annulment

back to top20-108.2. Guideline for determination of child support; quadrennial review by Child Support Guidelines Review Panel; executive summary

A. There shall be a rebuttable presumption in any judicial or administrative proceeding for child support under this title or Title 16.1 or 63.2, including cases involving split custody or shared custody, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the guidelines set forth in this section is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. In order to rebut the presumption, the court shall make written findings in the order as set out in § 20-108.1, which findings may be incorporated by reference, that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case as determined by relevant evidence pertaining to the factors set out in § 20-108.1. The Department of Social Services shall set child support at the amount resulting from computations using the guidelines set out in this section pursuant to the authority granted to it in Chapter 19 (§ 63.2-1900 et seq.) of Title 63.2 and subject to the provisions of § 63.2-1918.

B. For purposes of application of the guideline, a basic child support obligation shall be computed using the schedule set out below. For combined monthly gross income amounts falling between amounts shown in the schedule, basic child support obligation amounts shall be extrapolated. However, unless one of the following exemptions applies where the sole custody child support obligation as computed pursuant to subdivision G 1 is less than the statutory minimum per month, there shall be a presumptive minimum child support obligation of the statutory minimum per month payable by the payor parent. If the gross income of the obligor is equal to or less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from time to time, then the court, upon hearing evidence that there is no ability to pay the presumptive statutory minimum, may set an obligation below the presumptive statutory minimum provided doing so does not create or reduce a support obligation to an amount which seriously impairs the custodial parent's ability to maintain minimal adequate housing and provide other basic necessities for the child. Exemptions from this presumptive minimum monthly child support obligation shall include: parents unable to pay child support because they lack sufficient assets from which to pay child support and who, in addition, are institutionalized in a psychiatric facility; are imprisoned for life with no chance of parole; are medically verified to be totally and permanently disabled with no evidence of potential for paying child support, including recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI); or are otherwise involuntarily unable to produce income. “Number of children” means the number of children for whom the parents share joint legal responsibility and for whom support is being sought.

SCHEDULE OF MONTHLY BASIC CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS [NOTE FROM WOMENSLAW.ORG: SEE ORIGINAL STATUTE FOR THE CHART THAT IS INSERTED HERE - WE COULD NOT COPY IT IN A READABLE FORMAT]

C. For purposes of this section, “gross income” means all income from all sources, and shall include, but not be limited to, income from salaries, wages, commissions, royalties, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits except as listed below, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, veterans' benefits, spousal support, rental income, gifts, prizes or awards.

If a parent's gross income includes disability insurance benefits, it shall also include any amounts paid to or for the child who is the subject of the order and derived by the child from the parent's entitlement to disability insurance benefits. To the extent that such derivative benefits are included in a parent's gross income, that parent shall be entitled to a credit against his or her ongoing basic child support obligation for any such amounts, and, if the amount of the credit exceeds the parent's basic child support obligations, the credit may be used to reduce arrearages.

Gross income shall be subject to deduction of reasonable business expenses for persons with income from self-employment, a partnership, or a closely held business. “Gross income” shall not include:

1. Benefits from public assistance and social services programs as defined in § 63.2-100;

2. Federal supplemental security income benefits;

3. Child support received; or

4. Income received by the payor from secondary employment income not previously included in “gross income,” where the payor obtained the income to discharge a child support arrearage established by a court or administrative order and the payor is paying the arrearage pursuant to the order. “Secondary employment income” includes but is not limited to income from an additional job, from self-employment, or from overtime employment. The cessation of such secondary income upon the payment of the arrearage shall not be the basis for a material change in circumstances upon which a modification of child support may be based.

For purposes of this subsection: (i) spousal support received shall be included in gross income and spousal support paid shall be deducted from gross income when paid pursuant to an order or written agreement and (ii) one-half of any self-employment tax paid shall be deducted from gross income.

Where there is an existing court or administrative order or written agreement relating to the child or children of a party to the proceeding, who are not the child or children who are the subject of the present proceeding, then there is a presumption that there shall be deducted from the gross income of the party subject to such order or written agreement, the amount that the party is actually paying for the support of a child or children pursuant to such order or agreement.

Where a party to the proceeding has a natural or adopted child or children in the party's household or primary physical custody, and the child or children are not the subject of the present proceeding, there is a presumption that there shall be deducted from the gross income of that party the amount as shown on the Schedule of Monthly Basic Child Support Obligations contained in subsection B that represents that party's support obligation based solely on that party's income as being the total income available for the natural or adopted child or children in the party's household or primary physical custody, who are not the subject of the present proceeding. Provided, however, that the existence of a party's financial responsibility for such a child or children shall not of itself constitute a material change in circumstances for modifying a previous order of child support in any modification proceeding. Any adjustment to gross income under this subsection shall not create or reduce a support obligation to an amount which seriously impairs the custodial parent's ability to maintain minimal adequate housing and provide other basic necessities for the child, as determined by the court.

In cases in which retroactive liability for support is being determined, the court or administrative agency may use the gross monthly income of the parties averaged over the period of retroactivity.

D. Except for good cause shown or the agreement of the parties, in addition to any other child support obligations established pursuant to this section, any child support order shall provide that the parents pay in proportion to their gross incomes, as used for calculating the monthly support obligation, any reasonable and necessary unreimbursed medical or dental expenses. The method of payment of those expenses shall be contained in the support order. Each parent shall pay his respective share of expenses as those expenses are incurred. Any amount paid under this subsection shall not be adjusted by, nor added to, the child support calculated in accordance with subsection G. For the purposes of this section, medical or dental expenses shall include but not be limited to eyeglasses, prescription medication, prosthetics, orthodontics, and mental health or developmental disabilities services, including but not limited to services provided by a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist.

E. The costs for health care coverage as defined in § 63.2-1900, vision care coverage, and dental care coverage for the child or children who are the subject of the child support order that are being paid by a parent or that parent's spouse shall be added to the basic child support obligation. To determine the cost to be added to the basic child support obligation, the cost per person shall be applied to the child or children who are subject of the child support order. If the per child cost is provided by the insurer, that is the cost per person. Otherwise, to determine the cost per person, the cost of individual coverage for the policy holder shall be subtracted from the total cost of the coverage, and the remaining amount shall be divided by the number of remaining covered persons.

F. Any child-care costs incurred on behalf of the child or children due to employment of the custodial parent shall be added to the basic child support obligation. Child-care costs shall not exceed the amount required to provide quality care from a licensed source. When requested by the noncustodial parent, the court may require the custodial parent to present documentation to verify the costs incurred for child care under this subsection. Where appropriate, the court shall consider the willingness and availability of the noncustodial parent to provide child care personally in determining whether child-care costs are necessary or excessive. Upon the request of either party, and upon a showing of the tax savings a party derives from child-care cost deductions or credits, the court shall factor actual tax consequences into its calculation of the child-care costs to be added to the basic child support obligation.

G. 1. Sole custody support. The sole custody total monthly child support obligation shall be established by adding (i) the monthly basic child support obligation, as determined from the schedule contained in subsection B, (ii) costs for health care coverage to the extent allowable by subsection E, and (iii) work-related child-care costs and taking into consideration all the factors set forth in subsection B of § 20-108.1. The total monthly child support obligation shall be divided between the parents in the same proportion as their monthly gross incomes bear to their monthly combined gross income. The monthly obligation of each parent shall be computed by multiplying each parent's percentage of the parents' monthly combined gross income by the total monthly child support obligation.

However, the monthly obligation of the noncustodial parent shall be reduced by the cost for health care coverage to the extent allowable by subsection E when paid directly by the noncustodial parent or that parent's spouse. Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses shall be calculated and allocated in accordance with subsection D.

2. Split custody support. In cases involving split custody, the amount of child support to be paid shall be the difference between the amounts owed by each parent as a noncustodial parent, computed in accordance with subdivision 1, with the noncustodial parent owing the larger amount paying the difference to the other parent. Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses shall be calculated and allocated in accordance with subsection D.

For the purpose of this section and § 20-108.1, split custody shall be limited to those situations where each parent has physical custody of a child or children born of the parents, born of either parent and adopted by the other parent or adopted by both parents. For the purposes of calculating a child support obligation where split custody exists, a separate family unit exists for each parent, and child support for that family unit shall be calculated upon the number of children in that family unit who are born of the parents, born of either parent and adopted by the other parent or adopted by both parents. Where split custody exists, a parent is a custodial parent to the children in that parent's family unit and is a noncustodial parent to the children in the other parent's family unit.

3. Shared custody support.

(a) Where a party has custody or visitation of a child or children for more than 90 days of the year, as such days are defined in subdivision G 3 (c), a shared custody child support amount based on the ratio in which the parents share the custody and visitation of any child or children shall be calculated in accordance with this subdivision. The presumptive support to be paid shall be the shared custody support amount, unless a party affirmatively shows that the sole custody support amount calculated as provided in subdivision G 1 is less than the shared custody support amount. If so, the lesser amount shall be the support to be paid. For the purposes of this subsection, the following shall apply:

(i) Income share. “Income share” means a parent's percentage of the combined monthly gross income of both parents. The income share of a parent is that parent's gross income divided by the combined gross incomes of the parties.

(ii) Custody share. “Custody share” means the number of days that a parent has physical custody, whether by sole custody, joint legal or joint residential custody, or visitation, of a shared child per year divided by the number of days in the year. The actual or anticipated “custody share” of the parent who has or will have fewer days of physical custody shall be calculated for a one-year period. The “custody share” of the other parent shall be presumed to be the number of days in the year less the number of days calculated as the first parent's “custody share.” For purposes of this calculation, the year may begin on such date as is determined in the discretion of the court, and the day may begin at such time as is determined in the discretion of the court. For purposes of this calculation, a day shall be as defined in subdivision G 3 (c).

(iii) Shared support need. “Shared support need” means the presumptive guideline amount of needed support for the shared child or children calculated pursuant to subsection B of this section, for the combined gross income of the parties and the number of shared children, multiplied by 1.4.

(iv) Sole custody support. “Sole custody support” means the support amount determined in accordance with subdivision G 1.

(b) Support to be paid. The shared support need of the shared child or children shall be calculated pursuant to subdivision G 3 (a) (iii). This amount shall then be multiplied by the other parent's custody share. To that sum for each parent shall be added the other parent's or that parent's spouse's cost of health care coverage to the extent allowable by subsection E, plus the other parent's work-related child-care costs to the extent allowable by subsection F. This total for each parent shall be multiplied by that parent's income share. The support amounts thereby calculated that each parent owes the other shall be subtracted one from the other and the difference shall be the shared custody support one parent owes to the other, with the payor parent being the one whose shared support is the larger. Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses shall be calculated and allocated in accordance with subsection D.

(c) Definition of a day. For the purposes of this section, “day” means a period of 24 hours; however, where the parent who has the fewer number of overnight periods during the year has an overnight period with a child, but has physical custody of the shared child for less than 24 hours during such overnight period, there is a presumption that each parent shall be allocated one-half of a day of custody for that period.

(d) Minimum standards. Any calculation under this subdivision shall not create or reduce a support obligation to an amount which seriously impairs the custodial parent's ability to maintain minimal adequate housing and provide other basic necessities for the child. If the gross income of either party is equal to or less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from time to time, then the shared custody support calculated pursuant to this subsection shall not be the presumptively correct support and the court may consider whether the sole custody support or the shared custody support is more just and appropriate.

(e) Support modification. When there has been an award of child support based on the shared custody formula and one parent consistently fails to exercise custody or visitation in accordance with the parent's custody share upon which the award was based, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the support award should be modified.

(f) In the event that the shared custody support calculation indicates that the net support is to be paid to the parent who would not be the parent receiving support pursuant to the sole custody calculation, then the shared support shall be deemed to be the lesser support.

H. The Secretary of Health and Human Resources shall ensure that the guideline set out in this section is reviewed by October 31, 2001, and every four years thereafter, by the Child Support Guidelines Review Panel, consisting of 15 members comprised of four legislative members and 11 nonlegislative citizen members. Members shall be appointed as follows: three members of the House Committee for Courts of Justice, upon the recommendation of the chairman of such committee, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates in accordance with the principles of proportional representation contained in the Rules of the House of Delegates; one member of the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice, upon the recommendation of the chairman of such committee, to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; and one representative of a juvenile and domestic relations district court, one representative of a circuit court, one representative of the Department of Social Services' Division of Child Support Enforcement, three members of the Virginia State Bar, two custodial parents, two noncustodial parents, and one child advocate, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, to be appointed by the Governor. The Panel shall determine the adequacy of the guideline for the determination of appropriate awards for the support of children by considering current research and data on the cost of and expenditures necessary for rearing children, and any other resources it deems relevant to such review. The Panel shall report its findings to the General Assembly as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports before the General Assembly next convenes following such review.

Legislative members shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office. Nonlegislative citizen members shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. All members may be reappointed. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be made for the unexpired terms. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments.

Legislative members shall receive such compensation as provided in § 30-19.12, and nonlegislative citizen members shall receive such compensation for the performance of their duties as provided in § 2.2-2813. All members shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in §§ 2.2-2813 and 2.2-2825. Funding for the costs of compensation and expenses of the members shall be provided by the Department of Social Services.

The Department of Social Services shall provide staff support to the Panel. All agencies of the Commonwealth shall provide assistance to the Panel, upon request.

The chairman of the Panel shall submit to the Governor and the General Assembly a quadrennial executive summary of the interim activity and work of the Panel no later than the first day of 2006 regular session of the General Assembly and every four years thereafter. The executive summary shall be submitted as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports and shall be posted on the General Assembly's website.
Acts 1988, c. 907; Acts 1989, c. 528; Acts 1989, c. 578; Acts 1989, c. 579; Acts 1989, c. 599; Acts 1991, c. 545; Acts 1991, c. 588; Acts 1992, c. 79; Acts 1992, c. 716; Acts 1992, c. 860; Acts 1995, c. 1; Acts 1995, c. 481; Acts 1996, c. 491; Acts 1996, c. 947; Acts 1996, c. 1029; Acts 1998, c. 618; Acts 1999, c. 690; Acts 1999, c. 808; Acts 1999, c. 836; Acts 2000, c. 219; Acts 2000, c. 305; Acts 2000, c. 376; Acts 2000, c. 384; Acts 2000, c. 461; Acts 2001, c. 193; Acts 2001, c. 809; Acts 2002, c. 650; Acts 2002, c. 747, eff. Oct. 1, 2002; Acts 2003, c. 885; Acts 2004, c. 907; Acts 2004, c. 1008. Amended by Acts 2005, c. 758; Acts 2006, c. 785; Acts 2006, c. 798; Acts 2008, c. 697; Acts 2009, c. 713; Acts 2010, c. 243, eff. April 7, 2010; Acts 2014, c. 667; Acts 2015, c. 510.