How Child Support is Calculated in Virginia

By: John Whitbeck


One area of a divorce that is more predictable is the calculation of child support. This is not something left up to chance, actually following a specific formula. While divorce can be overwhelming, hiring a Virginia family law attorney can help guide you through the child support process, addressing any questions or concerns.

How Child Support is Calculated in Virginia

Each state has its own guidelines on how child support is handled. Virginia’s child support laws are covered under Virginia Code Section 20-108.2. The courts rely on a mathematical formula that is used to calculate specific child support payments. The formula will be used differently in every case, depending on the individual custody agreement. There are several different types of custody, which can include:

  • Sole physical custody: Also called “primary physical custody.” Sole physical custody in Virginia means that the noncustodial parent has 89 or less 24-hour periods with the child each year.
  • Shared physical custody: Shared physical custody means that each parent has at least 90 or more 24-hour periods with the child each year.

The Virginia state table outlines what a parent is responsible for paying at different family income levels for households who have up to six children. For example, if the combined family is over a certain amount that falls outside of the Virginia state table, support would be based on a percentage of income. Then you add items like work-related childcare expenses and health insurance.

Whatever the number is for the child support obligation will be apportioned between the parents based on each of their individual incomes. If one parent makes 70% of the entire family income, then he or she would be the one to pay 70% of the expenses for child support. Again, who makes the payment will depend on the arrangement for child custody. An experienced Virginia family law attorney can be beneficial in answering any questions you have about the child support process.

Custody arrangements can impact these figures when there is a shared custody agreement. Each parent’s custodial share will impact the final figures. When custody is split, the court calculates the sole custody amount for each parent and then makes adjustments from there.

It’s important to note that while there is a formula in place, the courts have the power to decrease or increase support as they see fit while taking into account the best interests of the child.

Can You Modify Child Support?

The courts recognize that situations change and that there may need to be modifications made to the original support amount. Perhaps there is a drastic change in your financial situation, or your child is no longer in daycare, etc.

Calculating child support can seem confusing to many parents, let alone figuring out how to appeal or apply for a modification. If you need assistance with child support, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable Virginia family law attorney who can help navigate the path ahead. To learn how our team can help, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or by emailing clientservices@wblaws.com.

Related: Child and Spousal Support


John Whitbeck

John Whitbeck


John C. Whitbeck, Jr. is the founder of WhitbeckBennett. His practice focuses on family law, special education law, and mental health law. He regularly practices in several jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia area. He has also been certified as an expert witness in litigation.