Like other states, Virginia has child support guidelines that the courts in this state use as a starting point for issuing support orders.
The idea behind these child support guidelines is to make sure that courts are issuing orders that are consistent and fair to all involved.
The guidelines set out how much parents pay based on their combined monthly gross income. Although the actual income figures go up to $35,000 a month (or about $430,000 a year), the guidelines also explain in detail how courts should figure support payments for high earners.
Still, applying these guidelines is not always so easy in high-income cases.
Because the stakes are high, parents may be willing to argue their points
For one, when either spouse has the money to do so, they may be more prone to argue about child support. After all, these regular payments are important for a child’s well-being. Calculating a proper amount of support is also a matter of fairness to both parents, as both should pay their fair share toward their child’s standard of living after their split.
Income can be harder to calculate in a high-asset case
Many wealthier people in Northern Virginia earn income from many sources aside from their paychecks. They may have investment properties or other capital that provides them with a stream of income.
Certain employment perks for executive positions, including, for example, incentive bonuses, also might factor into child support calculations.
Even regular gifts to a parent from family members can count as income for child support purposes. This is true even if the parent would not have to report the gift on their income tax return.
These circumstances can make it difficult for parents, or a court, to come to a clear understanding of how much each parent makes and, thus, how much each parent should contribute toward child support.
High-earning parents may be able to ask for a deviation
Likewise, parents who are well off may be in a legal position where they could ask a judge to make an exception to the support guidelines. Virginia judges are free to grant deviations from the guidelines so long as they can legally justify it.
To give just one example, a parent might argue that they need additional support so the child can maintain their standard of living. The flip side is that a parent might claim that the amount of support the guidelines call for is far beyond what the child truly needs to keep their lifestyle after the divorce.
In high-asset cases, child support is rarely an open-and-shut question. Parents make sure they understand both how the guidelines work and their legal alternatives.