VA Code 20-108.1 Interpretation

In Watkinson v. Henley, 13 Va. App. 151, 409 S.E.2d 470 (1991), the Court held that the agreed amount must be evaluated relative to the factors set forth in Code 20-108.1 as follows: Where parents have agreed upon an amount, or agreed upon other provisions, for the support and maintenance of a child, the trial court must consider the provisions of the agreement, that relate to the factors in Code 20-107.2 and 20-108.1 [now contained exclusively in 20-108.1], in deciding whether the presumptive amount would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case. In so doing, the trial court must consider whether the agreed provisions for the child would better serve the interest or "equities" for the parents and children. Code 20-107.2(2)(h) [now 20-108.1(B)(18)]. The best interest of the child or children is the paramount and guiding principle in setting child support, whether it be adopting the presumptive amount, calculating an alternate sum after the presumptive amount has been rebutted, ordering the amount agreed upon between the parents, or approving, ratifying and incorporating, in whole or in part, the child support provisions of a contract. Furthermore, we hold that if the trial court finds that the presumptive amount is unjust or inappropriate because the provisions in a separation agreement serve the best interest of the child, the court may vary from the guidelines by ordering support be paid in an amount equal to the benefits provided for in the contract. Alternately, the court may, rather than judicially set support, elect to affirm, ratify and incorporate by reference the agreement between the parties, or any provisions thereof, concerning the maintenance and support of the minor children, or establish or impose any other condition or consideration, monetary or nonmonetary. Watkinson, 13 Va. App. at 158-59, 409 S.E.2d at 474.