More than $600,000 in child support is collected in Virginia each year, benefiting 14% of children in the state. No matter their relationship with one another, parents have a legal obligation to provide for their children financially. Child support benefits the health, safety, education, and care of Virginia’s kids.

If you are a parent seeking child support for your child, already have an order you want to modify, or are considering divorce and want to know what to expect regarding child support, E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law is ready to help.

Gordon has helped parents navigate Virginia’s child support process for 20 years in Lynchburg, Blackstone, as well as the surrounding Virginia counties of Amherst, Campbell, Bedford, Nottoway, Prince Edward, and Charlotte.



How Child Support Is Calculated in Virginia

The basic sum a child should receive for support is calculated using a specific formula in Virginia. The formula uses two basic factors — the parents’ combined monthly gross income and the number of children they share. From there, multiple factors may be considered in calculating the specific amount of child support each parent is responsible for. Some of those factors are:

  • The child custody arrangement and parenting time

  • Child support each parent is either paying or receiving from children shared with other parents

  • Other payments made for the child, such as for life insurance or education expenses

  • Capital gains made by the sale of a home or other marital assets

  • Care for children with disabilities or health issues paid by each parent

  • Tax consequences for each parent

  • The child’s standard of living during the marriage

All types of income are included in the calculation. In addition to wages and salaries, for example, bonuses, commissions, dividends, Social Security, pensions, unemployment, workers’ compensation benefits, or even lottery winnings are factored in.

If a parent voluntarily becomes unemployed or underemployed in an attempt to reduce the amount of child support they should pay, the court will use an imputed income figure for that parent. That means it will base that parent’s income on the amount they should be earning rather than what they are earning at the time.

Do Both Parents Pay Their Fair Share?

Once the combined income is tallied and the basic sum of support is calculated, the percentage of each parent’s contribution is determined. If the support is to be $500 per month and parent X earns one-third of the combined income and parent Y, two-thirds, parent X will be responsible for one-third of the $500 ($166.66) and parent Y for two-thirds ($333.33). This doesn’t mean each parent will actually write a check for their share and give it to the other parent. The actual exchange of cash depends on the child custody arrangement. The parent with physical custody is assumed to provide financial support because of the time they spend with the child. If parent X has physical custody most of the time, their one-third share will likely be assumed paid by the expenses of day-to-day custody.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order

If either parent experiences a “material change” of circumstances, they can ask the court to modify an existing child support order. Material changes can include such things as a significant increase or decrease in income, loss of health insurance, or child support owed for additional children with another parent.

Termination of Child Support

In general, child support obligations automatically terminate when the child reaches 18 years of age — or 19 if they are still in high school. Exceptions to the age requirement may occur if the child is developmentally disabled or physically handicapped, is unable to live independently, or continues to reside with the parent receiving support.

The Importance of an Attorney

The Virginia child support formula provides only a basic idea of what you may owe or receive. There are numerous other circumstances, unique to every case, which then figure into the final calculation. It can be extremely complicated to arrive at the final amount you will pay or be paid in the end. Because of this, it’s wise to retain a family law attorney who can help you navigate the variables and advocate for you during what can be a contentious process.


E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law has been helping parents for decades in initial child support arrangements and modifications of existing ones. Gordon has offices in Lynchburg and Blackstone, Virginia to better serve clients throughout Amherst, Campbell, Bedford, Nottoway, Prince Edward, and Charlotte counties. Child support is complicated. Gordon is ready to help. Reach out to schedule a consultation.