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Why child support orders often differ from estimates

One of the many things parents desire for their children is predictability. Avoiding nasty surprises and maintaining a stable living condition is a difficult proposition when facing divorce, and it turns out that child support calculators will not help much in the matter. They are capable of returning by-the-book values based on a few critical pieces of information covered in state family laws, but the calculators that appear on Virginia and other state websites are incapable of predicting judicial decisions regarding the best interests of the child in specific circumstances.

One of the problems is that state calculators or worksheets are only as good as the information entered into them. This usually consists of monthly salary amounts, tax credits and medical benefits received, and total time spent with each parent. Prior to acceptance of a divorce agreement signed by a Virginia family law judge, which may include child relocation, property division and spousal support, it can be difficult to estimate some of this information.

Another problem that throws off estimations is their inability to capture all the information presented to a family law judge. The court has some discretion in establishing a child support amount for the best interests of the child. Judges may consider numerous expenses in doing so, such as tuition costs and special health needs.

Children are served best with parents who have stable living conditions and available resources. Parents who are pursuing a divorce may not know that one of the risks is often financial hardship coupled with, and sometimes caused by, the inherent negative emotions in the end of a marriage. An attorney with experience in these matters may be best capable of guiding a parent through this process in a way that protects the client's financial and emotional well-being.

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