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Virginia Poised to Update Child Support Guidelines

Virginia CodeThe Virginia General Assembly recently passed a bill to update Virginia’s child support guidelines. The bill, HB 933, enjoyed significant support in the legislature—passing the House of Delegates on a vote of 85-10 and the Senate on a 38-0 vote. If the Governor now signs the bill, it will go into law effective July 1, 2014.

HB 933 proposes three significant changes to Virginia Code § 20-108.2:

  1. Updated Child Support Guidelines. Virginia initially adopted the child support guidelines set forth in Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 in 1988, and while it has made minor changes to portions of this law it has not updated the actual guidelines in the past 26 years. The new law would not simply increase child support amounts across the board; rather, the specific details of an individual’s case could result in higher or lower child support amounts under the revised guidelines.
  2. Removes Set Statutory Minimum Support. Under the current law, the minimum child support obligation a party can be ordered to pay is $65 per month. HB 933 would remove this set amount and instead set a minimum amount that increases based on the number of children requiring support. To counterbalance this method, the bill also gives judges flexibility in setting a support amount below the presumptive guideline amount if the paying parent’s gross income is equal to or less than 150% of the federal poverty level. The paying parent’s income being below the poverty level does not automatically decrease child support, but does give the judge the power to deviate from the guidelines for that parent. In exercising this discretionary power, judges are directed not to set an amount so low that it “seriously impairs the custodial parent’s ability to provide minimal adequate housing and provide other basic necessities for the child.”
  3. Divides All Reasonable and Necessary Unreimbursed Medical Expenses Between Parents. Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 presently requires custodial parents to share in the payment of the reasonable and necessary unreimbursed medical or dental expenses that are in excess of $250 per child each calendar year. HB 933 would do away with the requirement that the custodial parent pay all of the first $250 in such expenses, and would instead have parents share in all of these costs, from the first dollar, in proportion to their incomes. This is consistent with other provisions of the child support guidelines which include all of the parent’s work-related child care costs and the cost of medical insurance coverage.

Please note that pending child support cases may fall under the current child support guidelines. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may benefit from having support decided under the old guidelines or under the new ones. To determine your options and best course of action, consult with an experienced child support attorney. From offices in Fredericksburg, Ashburn, Fairfax and Manassas, the experienced child support lawyers at Livesay & Myers represent clients across Northern Virginia. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.