In Virginia, child support enforcement services are provided by the local child support enforcement agency (DCSE). Payments are made to families by direct deposit or via mail.
The DCSE can enforce a support order by:
- Withholding income from a parent’s wages, social security, unemployment, worker’s compensation or veterans disability compensation.
- Placing liens on a parent’s real or personal property.
- Garnishing state and federal tax refunds.
- Withhold child support from a paycheck or from unemployment benefits.
- Garnish worker’s compensation benefits.
- Suspending driving, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses (If behind 90 days or more in payments).
- Credit bureau reports.
- Bench warrants for arrest.
- Passport Denial.
- File contempt of court actions, which could result in a jail sentence.
In accordance to the laws of Virginia, a child support order is an official government document that states who must pay for the basic support and medical care of children. In ordinary circumstances, the “noncustodial” parent, meaning, the parent who spends less time with the children, must make regularly scheduled child support payments to the “custodial” parent (the parent who takes care of the children the majority of the time). This way, both parents are paying a fair share of the children’s expenses.
Many couples who split up are able to reach an informal agreement about child support. Sometimes, these agreements are written, and sometimes, they’re just spoken. But these kinds of informal agreements are not enough to give the courts or a state agency the power to go after delinquent, or “deadbeat” parents, who don’t pay child support. The courts and state agencies can’t do anything unless there is a written, official order. It’s critical to make sure that an informal agreement is also incorporated (merged) into a formal court order.
If you and your ex can’t agree about child support, then you will have to go to court, file a request for child support, and ask a judge to give you an order that establishes the amount and frequency of support payments as per the laws of Virginia.
Once there is a child support order in place, everyone has to abide by it. If the noncustodial parent doesn’t make payments in accordance with the order, then the custodial parent has a variety of options for enforcing the order and collecting past-due support.
If a parent is having problems making payments, he or she should contact the court immediately. The parent can always seek to modify their existing support order. This will require going back to court and explaining to the judge why you can’t make your payments. Only a judge can change the amount you owe under a support order. Courts typically review support orders every 36 months.
Criminal Prosecution in Virginia
In Virginia, if the court decides the non-custodial parent could pay some or all of the amount owed, the payer can be held in contempt. Penalties for contempt may include any of the enforcement methods listed above (like suspending a driver’s license), plus fines, jail time, and other penalties. Additionally, the non-paying can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and face jail or prison time.