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Child support deviations

While most divorces involving children also involve child support, many people aren't clear on how child support is determined or why the ordered amount may be different than what would normally be ordered. Understanding how child support is determined and why a deviation may occur can help you be better prepared for what to expect and know whether you have grounds to request a deviation.

Child support is usually based on whether the parents of the child have a sole custody arrangement or shared parenting and the incomes of both parents. In the simplest of cases, the parents' incomes and child-related expenses, such as health insurance premiums and childcare costs, are inserted in a worksheet that then tells the courts what the child support amount should be. However, the courts make the final decisions and, in some cases, may order a deviation from that amount to account for extenuating circumstances.

There are several reasons for a deviation listed in § 20-108.1 of the Code of Virginia, but some of the most common include deviations for situations where the parents have joint physical custody and a more equitable distribution of time spent with the child, special needs of the child that require additional expenses or a change in circumstances related to the child.

It's important to understand that while many of the same reasons may be considered, a deviation is different than a modification. The deviation may be able to be put in place with the original child support order if the parents supply the appropriate documentation and make the request.

Source: Virginia Law, "§ 20-108.1. Determination of child or spousal support.," accessed July 08, 2015

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