So far we have covered gross income, childcare costs, and healthcare costs. The final basic element of the child support calculation is the custody arrangement.
The custody arrangement makes a larger difference than simply deciding who pays whom, although it does usually do that. If parent A is the primary physical custodian of a child then he or she has a right to a determination of how much child support is owed by parent B. This is usually straightforward enough, but there are two circumstances where it gets more complicated.
The first, which is far less common, is called split custody. Split custody is where there are two or more children of the parties and they do not all live together with the same parent. This would be like the son living with his father and the daughter living with her mother. In that event each parent is the primary physical custodian of one child. That, in turn, means that each parent is entitled to receive child support from the other and it also means that each parent must pay child support to the other. This is usually done by calculating the two support obligations independently and having the resulting net support paid. Although this method can result in zero support being owed, it usually does not. Because of the way the guidelines are set up, the math rarely works out to a zero even though that might seem fair to the parties.
The second more complicated scenario is shared custody, which is where the children all live together but both parents have more than 90 days with the children per calendar year. The first question in determining whether you have a shared custody situation is to count days and see if the minority custodian has more than 90. This might be easy, say the parents rotate custody from week to week; custody will then be shared 50/50. In other situations it is not so clear. If the non-custodial parent has a lot of time in the summer, if there is extra time during the week, or extended weekends, then the day count becomes important.
There are rules set by Virginia regarding counting days for this purpose and we will turn to those in the next post.
Please enjoy this disclaimer: The content of this post, indeed of all of my posts, is intended to reference only Virginia law. I am writing this blog to give some idea of the complexities that can underlie family law issues in Virginia and in no way am I giving anyone legal advice here. While I hope these posts will be informative, no one should feel entitled to rely on the information presented here as an authoritative source. Anyone facing a legal issue is well advised to speak to a lawyer face to face to discuss the specifics of that case, rather than relying on general information found on the internet.