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Paying for Private Education with Child Support

Is there anything you can do when you want your child to have a private education, but your ex doesn’t want to help pay the bill? It depends.

This is how child support works in Virginia: there is a presumptive amount of child support that is due to the primary custodial parent that is calculated using the gross incomes of the two parents. This presumptive amount of child support can be rebutted upon findings of fact, as required by Virginia Code Section 20-108.1(B), that justify a deviation from the guidelines.

Will a court deviate from the guidelines– order more child support than stated in the guidelines– to allow the custodial parent to send the child to private school? To answer this question, the Virginia Appellate Court has written that “a parent may be required to pay for private education expenses, even though such expenses exceed the guidelines, when there is a demonstrated need for the child to attend private school and the parent has the ability to pay.” Joynes v. Payne, 36 Va. App. 401 at 424, 551 S.E.2d 10 at 21 (2001) (quoting Ragsdale v. Ragsdale, 30 Va. App. 283 at 295, 516 S.E.2d 698 at 704 (1999).

So, if there is a demonstrated need for the child to attend private school, then a deviation from the guidelines might be in order. However, if you want your child to go to private school simply because you view private schools as better, but you can’t really afford it, the court probably won’t order more child support to help you foot the bill. Instead, you would need to consider getting a second job to pay the tuition.

The child support lawyers at Livesay & Myers, P.C. represent clients in Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, Woodbridge and Manassas, Virginia. If you require assistance with a child support or other family law matter in Virginia, contact us to schedule a consultation today.