Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) February 6, 2014 – A new bill in Virginia would institute a new, costlier child-support payment schedule.
The new year could see a significant increase in Virginia’s child-support payment guidelines if a bill, introduced January 8 in the House of Delegates, becomes law. The measure has some policy advocates grousing that unmerited costs will be imposed upon non-custodial parents if it is enacted.
The bill, HR 933, was crafted based on recommendations from the Child Support Guidelines Review Panel and would raise the basic child-support obligations of non-custodial parents. The amounts mandated by its new schedule would then be adjusted by statutory additions to arrive at the total obligation a non-custodial parent would face.
However, should the obligated parent’s income be equal to or less that 150 percent of the federal poverty level — as spelled out by the federal Department of Health and Human Services — then a court, at its discretion, may determine that the child-support obligation can fall below the statutory minimum, as long as that amount does not seriously impair the custodial parent’s ability to provide minimal adequate housing and other basic necessities for a child.
“The room for flexibility within the measure reflects the reality in Virginia that every child-support case has its own potential for mitigating factors,” said Lisa McDevitt, an attorney in Vienna and Fairfax who specializes in family law and divorce cases. “Each case is unique.”
Some conservative policy advocates assert that the costlier child-support schedule could spur many financially burdened non-custodial parents to decide not to pay. And a major sticking point for many is that the increased child-support schedule is accompanied by no financial offset for non-custodial parents for the $1,000 per child refundable tax credit, the personal exemption from tax attributable to a child and the earned-income tax credit that custodial parents may claim.
According to McDevitt, a skilled lawyer is necessary to determine what expenses are covered under Virginia law, regardless of whether this bill eventually becomes law. “A monetary value for all legitimate costs under the law that the custodial parent incurs must be carefully calculated in order to ensure the well-being of a child at the center of a divorce or separation,” McDevitt said.
Lisa Lane McDevitt
2155 Bonaventure Drive
Vienna, VA 22181