Child support ensures that both parents contribute financially to their children's care. It's required in all cases involving custody (unless handled in another case).

You may resolve child support in your custody or divorce case or through the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).

To estimate your payments, use the Virginia child support calculator above or follow the steps below to complete the court's calculation worksheets.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

## Child support basics

Like all states, Virginia uses a formula to determine child support. For a typical family, Virginia's formula yields the lowest child support payment in the country, according to a 2019 study by Custody X Change.

However, if parents prove it's best for the children, judges can deviate from the formula, as well as approve settlements in which parents agree to a different amount.

A child support order requires one parent to pay the other monthly until the children turn 18 or graduate from high school (whichever is later). If a child has special needs, courts may extend the payments. If you have multiple children with the other parent, your order will set adjusted amounts for when each child becomes ineligible.

Typically, the parent with less parenting time pays because the other spends more directly on caring for the children. Gender isn't a factor. Even parents who don't have custody or visitation must pay support, unless they give up parental rights for a step-parent adoption.

## Parenting time and child support

Parenting time enters the calculation only when both parents have the children at least 90 days a year. (Note how Virginia counts days of parenting time.) Then, as a parent's time increases, their financial obligation decreases because they're presumably spending more on the children already.

Equal parenting time only eliminates payments if parents also have identical incomes and share health insurance and child care costs equally.

Parents must follow their visitation schedule regardless of whether child support is paid on time. Likewise, support must be paid regardless of how well parents follow the visitation schedule.

## Calculate your payment (with examples)

You can use the Virginia child support calculator at the top of this page to estimate your child support amount. You'll also have to submit calculation worksheets to the court.

Which worksheet you give the court to calculate your payment depends on your parenting time.

If a parent has fewer than 90 days of annual parenting time, use the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. The noncustodial parent will pay the support.

When both parents have at least 90 days a year, use the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet – Shared Custody. Which parent will pay depends on the case.

Follow the simplified steps below to fill out either worksheet.

### Step 1: Determine each parent's available monthly gross income.

Add each parent's income from all sources: salaries, wages, veteran's and disability benefits, etc. This gives you each parent's monthly gross income.

Then, make adjustments for each parent to find their available monthly gross income:

- If they pay spousal support for this or another case, subtract the monthly amount.
- If they receive spousal support for this or another case, add the monthly amount.
- If they pay child support for other cases, subtract the monthly amount.
- If they receive child support for other cases, see the basic child support obligations table. Find the row for their individual monthly gross income (rounding up), and then, for each case, find the column for the number of children involved. Subtract that amount.
- If they're self-employed or own a small business, subtract their monthly expenses.

*Example:* Emily's available monthly gross income is $2,300 (including $400 she receives a month in spousal support). Antonio's is $5,100.

### Step 2: Calculate the combined available monthly gross income.

Add the parents' available monthly gross incomes together.

*Example:* Emily and Antonio have a combined available monthly gross income of $7,400.

## When one parent has fewer than 90 days of annual parenting time...

The remaining steps depend on your parenting time schedule. If neither parent has fewer than 90 days of parenting time a year, scroll down to find your Step 3.

### Step 3: Look up the basic combined support obligation.

Refer to Virginia's basic child support obligations table. In the first column, find your combined available monthly gross income, rounding up if necessary. Then, look across that row to the column for the number of children in your case. You'll land on your monthly basic combined obligation.

*Example:* Emily and Antonio's basic monthly combined support obligation for their one child is $917.

### Step 4: Calculate the total combined support obligation.

Determine how much the parents pay each month for work-related child care and the children's health insurance. Add this total to the basic combined support obligation.

*Example:* Emily and Antonio pay a combined total of $475 a month for the child's day care and health insurance. Adding this to their basic combined obligation of $917 gets them a total combined obligation of $1,392.

### Step 5: Determine the percentage obligation of each parent.

Divide your individual available monthly gross income by the combined available monthly gross income to get your percent obligation (as a decimal, rounding to the nearest hundredth). This is how much of the combined support obligation you're responsible for.

Repeat with the other parent's income to find their percent obligation.

*Example:* Emily divides her available income of $2,300 by their combined available income of $7,400 to get 0.31 (31%) — her percent obligation. Antonio's income of $5,100 divided by $7,400 is .689. Rounding up, his percent obligation is 69%.

### Step 6: Calculate the noncustodial parent's monthly obligation.

Multiply the total combined monthly support obligation by the noncustodial parent's percent obligation (as a decimal) to get their individual monthly obligation.

*Example:* Antonio, the noncustodial parent, multiples $1,392 by his percent obligation of .69 to get $960.48.

### Step 7: Determine the monthly payment by deducting insurance premiums.

Take your result from Step 6 and subtract what the noncustodial parent pays for the children's health insurance premiums each month. (If they don't pay for insurance, don't subtract anything.)

The result is their final obligation — how much they must pay in child support monthly (unless the court grants a deviation).

*Example:* Antonio pays $300 each month for their child's health insurance. He subtracts this from his individual support obligation of $960.48 to get $660.48. This is how much he should pay Emily a month in child support, per the state formula.

## When both parents have at least 90 days of annual parenting time...

### Step 3: Determine the percentage obligation of each parent.

Divide your individual available monthly gross income by the combined available monthly gross income to get your percent obligation (as a decimal, rounding to the nearest hundredth). This is how much of the combined support obligation you're responsible for.

Repeat with the other parent's income to find their percent obligation.

*Example:* Emily divides her available income of $2,300 by their combined available income of $7,400 to get 0.31 (31%) — her percent obligation. Antonio's income of $5,100 divided by $7,400 is .689. Rounding up, his percent obligation is 69%.

### Step 4: Look up the basic combined support obligation.

Refer to Virginia's basic child support obligations table. In the first column, find your combined available monthly gross income, rounding up if necessary. Then, look across that row to the column for the number of children in your case. You'll land on your monthly basic combined obligation.

*Example:* Emily and Antonio's basic monthly combined support obligation for their one child is $917.

### Step 5: Calculate the total shared support obligation.

Multiply your basic combined support obligation by 1.4. This calculates your total shared support obligation, or how much the state says two households should spend caring for the children in total.

*Example:* Emily and Antonio's basic obligation of $917 multiplied by 1.4 is $1,283.80 — their total shared support.

### Step 6: Determine the parenting time percentages.

Start with each parent's number of days with the children per year, according to how Virginia counts parenting time. Divide each figure by 365 to get each parent's percentage of annual time (as a decimal, rounding to the nearest hundredth).

*Example:* The child lives with Emily for 100 days per year and with Antonio for 265. Dividing 100 by 365, Emily gets .27, so her share of parenting time is 27%. Antonio's parenting time percentage is .73 (73%).

### Step 7: Calculate each parent's support obligation.

To find *your* individual support obligation, first multiply the total shared support obligation by the *other* parent's time percentage. If the other parent pays for work-related child care or the children's health insurance premiums, add the monthly cost to your result.

Then, take the total and multiply it by your percentage obligation (as a decimal) from Step 3. Now you have your obligation. Repeat to find the other parent's.

*Example:* Emily multiplies $1,283.80 by .73 (Antonio's parenting time percentage) to get $937.17. Antonio pays $300 a month for their child's health insurance, so she adds that to get $1,237.17. She multiples this by her percentage obligation, .31. The resulting figure, $383.52, is her support obligation.

Antonio repeats the process with Emily's parenting time percentage and his own percentage obligation. His obligation is $239.17.

### Step 8: Determine the monthly payment.

Subtract the lower obligation from the higher one. This shows you how much the parent with the higher obligation must pay in child support monthly (unless the court grants a deviation).

*Example:* Emily subtracts Antonio's support obligation of $239.17 from her obligation of $383.52. The result — $144.35 — is how much she should pay Antonio a month in child support, per the state formula.

## Division of Child Support Enforcement

The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) is a division of the Virginia Department of Social Services that establishes and enforces child support orders.

DCSE automatically opens a case when a parent receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) files for divorce or when an unmarried parent without a child support order files for TANF.

In addition, unmarried parents can opt to use DSCE to get child support and confirm paternity, even if they don't receive or apply for TANF. DCSE doesn't handle custody issues, so these parents must still file a case in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court (J&DR) if they want custody and parenting time orders.

## Enforcing, reviewing and modifying child support

If a parent doesn't pay child support as ordered, the recipient can request enforcement from DCSE or J&DR once the unpaid amount reaches $500. Both can garnish wages, intercept tax refunds and stimulus payments, place liens on property, suspend licenses and confiscate passports. Only J&DR courts, however, can levy fines and order jail time for missed payments.

Most parents begin enforcement with DCSE, which refers the case to the courts if necessary. However, parents can choose to skip DCSE.

Every 36 months, either parent can ask DSCE to adjust child support based on updated information. Between reviews, you can only request a modification if a parent's income or a child's health insurance premium changes by at least 25 percent.

## Getting accurate parenting time figures

Estimating parenting time can impact your support order by thousands of dollars a year. Your amount of overnight visits not only determines which support formula you use, but it is also a direct component of the shared parenting formula.

Still, lawyers (and even courts) usually estimate parenting time because calculating it manually is time-consuming.

Luckily, the Custody X Change app lets you quickly and accurately calculate your exact parenting time.

With Custody X Change, you can tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your parenting time. And you'll see how your time changes each year due to holidays and other events.

Custody technology also prevents common mathematical errors, such as double-counting time.

Remember that a child support order is legally binding and must be taken seriously.

Whether you are the one paying or receiving child support, make sure your overnights count is exact. The number will affect you, your child and the other parent for years to come.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.