RD805 - Review of Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines Va. Code Ann. §§ 20-108.1 and 20-108.2 – December 2021

Executive Summary:

• Virginia’s child support guidelines, set out at Va. Code §§ 20-108.1 and 20-108.2, 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 and state law governs state child support programs, and 45 C.F.R. § 302.56 sets out various requirements for state child support guidelines. In December 2016, the federal rule, Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Enforcement Programs, amended 45 C.F.R. § 302.56 by adding several requirements for state child support guidelines. The federal rule also revised 45 CFR § 303.8 in regard to the provision of health care coverage in child support orders. These changes must be enacted in 2022 in order for Virginia’s child support program to continue to receive federal funding, which constitutes 66% of its total funding.

• 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 recommends that the General Assembly:

(1) Amend Va. Code § 20-108.1(B)(3) to add a subsection requiring that a parent’s specific circumstances, to the extent presented to the court, be considered if imputing income, including the factors set out by the federal rule.

(2) Amend Va. Code § 63.2-1921(A) to add health care coverage as a basis for the Department of Social Services to initiate review of a child support order.