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How is child support decided?

How is child support decided?

Divorce often means the split of a family with children. While any divorce is complicated, it is even more so when kids are involved. Calculating child support sounds like a feat, but we can break it down into a few manageable categories.

The income of the parents

First, courts will consider the gross income of both parents. In Virginia, this specifically does not include government assistance, federal supplemental security income, support for another child and secondary employment income specifically for child support. There is also an adjustment for any spousal support agreements as well.

The cost of the children

In 2017, the average cost of raising a child between birth and age 17 was $233,610. And that number is only rising with inflation.

To calculate the costs of a child in a divorce, we begin with a monthly basic support obligation. This includes things like food, shelter and clothing for the child. Then, we look at medical care and insurance, including dental care, mental health services, medications, orthodontics, optometry and the like. Finally, calculations will consider if there are childcare costs to the parents because of employment. These numbers will compound if there is more than one child.

Visitation and custody

In Virginia, there is a direct correlation between child support and visitation rights. This means that when one party is responsible for the child for a longer period, they will receive more support because they will bear more of the expenses. This also means that monthly support obligation can be reduced because of split or shared custody.

While child support can feel daunting, it’s a necessary part of divorce considerations. While the courts will help with the calculations, remember that if you find it necessary, there can be modifications made afterward. It’s important that you get the support that you need to properly care for your children, even after your family changes.