RD616 - Review of Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines – December 2017

Executive Summary:

• Virginia’s child support guidelines, set out at §§ 20-108.1 and 20-108.2 of the Code of Virginia, were enacted in 1988 in response to federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 667 requires states to establish guidelines for child support obligation amounts by law or by judicial or administrative actions. Guidelines must be reviewed at least once every four years “to ensure that their application results in the determination of appropriate child support award amounts."

• Federal regulation 45 C.F.R. § 302.56 requires states to adopt child support guidelines that must:

(1) Take into consideration all earnings and income of the noncustodial parent;

(2) Be based on specific descriptive and numeric criteria and result in a computation of the support obligation; and

(3) Address how the parents will provide for the child(ren)'s health care needs through health insurance coverage and/or through cash medical support.

• Va. Code § 20-108.2(H) requires that the Child Support Guidelines Review Panel “determine the adequacy of the guideline for the determination of appropriate awards for the support of children by considering current research and data on the cost of and expenditures necessary for rearing children, and any other resources it deems relevant to such review."

• Pursuant to § 20-108.2(H), Panel membership includes representation of various entities affected by the child support guidelines. These groups include Virginia’s General Assembly, the courts, the Department of Social Services, members of the Virginia State Bar, custodial and noncustodial parents, and a child advocate.

• The Panel voted to recommend adding new statutory language to provide guidance for calculating obligations in complex family situations and to require that the child support guidelines worksheet be attached to all child support orders.

• The Panel recommends the General Assembly amend § 20-108.2 to:

(1) Provide statutory guidance for calculating obligations in cases where families have multiple custody arrangements.

(2) Require that the child support guidelines worksheet relied upon by a court or agency to reach its determination of a support obligation be attached to all child support orders.