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How is child support calculated using the Income Shares Model?

Child support can be a very hotly debated topic during a divorce in Virginia. States use different child support guidelines and models to calculate the amount of support. Currently, there are three different models that are used, including the Melson Formula, the Income Shares Model and the Percentage of Income Model. The most popular model in the country is the Income Shares Model, and Virginia is one of the 39 states that use it. But how is child support calculated using the Income Shares Model?

The idea behind the Income Shares Model is that a child should receive the same amount of parental income that he or she would have had if the parents still lived together. This comes from the idea that in a traditional household, both parents put their money together and use it to help all of the members of the family, especially their children. So the model calculates the amount of support as the share of the non-custodial and custodial parents' income that would have been used on the child if the parents were still together.

Calculating the amount of child support using the Income Shares Model is a four-step process. The first step is to determine the income of the parents and add these figures together. The next step is to figure out a basic child support obligation based on this combined income by referring to a table or grid developed by the state. The presumptive child support obligation is then calculated by adding in child care expenses and other deductions. Finally, the presumptive child support obligation is prorated between each parent based on their share of all of the income.

An advantage of the Income Shares Model is that it is easier to make adjustments to this model for items such as medical care and child care expenses. However, Virginia residents who are wondering how the Income Shares Model might affect them may want to seek the help they need in order to get a better idea how much child support they may be entitled to or how much they may have to pay.

Source:, "Child support guideline models by state", Accessed Oct. 9, 2016

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