If a Virginia court has ordered a parent to pay child support, that parent is legally obligated to pay the amount according to the established schedule. Child support is intended to cover a child's basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing, and failure to make payments could result in severe consequences for children. The Commonwealth can impose harsh penalties on the delinquent parent because of the potential harm to children if the custodial parent does not get financial support.
Whether you are a custodial parent looking to enforce a child support order or you are a non-custodial parent who can no longer afford to make the court-ordered payments, James E. Short, PLC, might be able to help.
Understand the Consequences You Face
Virginia's Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) is responsible for ensuring child support orders are obeyed. As such, they have the power to garnish wages and intercept tax refunds to make sure the child gets the financial support they need. The DCSE can also report the delinquency to the three credit bureaus and place liens on the non-custodial parent's assets and property until the child support is paid. These efforts aim to get child support delivered, but punitive measures can also be taken if the delinquency persists.
Potential Penalties for Not Making Child Support Payments in Virginia
- Accrual of interest. If child support remains unpaid for 30 days, interest of 6% per annum will begin to accrue. The longer a non-custodial parent doesn't pay, the more they will owe.
- Loss of licenses and professional certifications. It is within the court's authority to suspend driver's licenses, recreational licenses, and even professional licenses. They can also block passport applications and renewals and inform your employer.
- Fines. Non-custodial parents who don't pay child support could be issued substantial fines.
- Jail time. DCSE can petition the court to arrest and imprison someone for non-payment. If payments are more than a year overdue and exceed $5,000, the delinquent parent could be sentenced to jail time. If payments are more than two years outstanding and exceed $10,000, the parent could be charged with a felony and sentenced to two years in prison. It is not usually in the child's best interest to jail a delinquent parent, but it can happen in extreme cases, such as when the parent has the means to pay but deliberately refuses to do so.
It is important to note that child support orders are separate from child visitation orders. The custodial parent cannot refuse to allow the other parent to see the children because they have not paid child support. That would require a revision of the custody and visitation order, which delinquent child support payments could influence, but it's not a given.
What If You Can't Make the Payments?
If you are the non-custodial parent and your circumstances change so that you are no longer able to make the required child support payments, you can go to court to ask for a revision of the order based on your new financial situation. However, until the order is changed, you are obligated to continue to make the payments. It is vital that you seek an attorney’s help when asking for a reduction in the child support order. Your finances will be scrutinized, and you could be denied if you quit your job, made extravagant purchases, or squandered your money another way. You will need a valid reason and substantial evidence to get child support payments reduced.
Call James E. Short, PLC, to Discuss Your Child Support Issue
Whether you are the custodial parent who is not getting court-ordered child support payments from the other parent or the non-custodial parent who cannot make the required payments due to your financial situation, a family lawyer can help. When you contact James Short, he will explain your rights and options and help you figure out the best way to support your children. Fill out our contact page or call our Chesapeake office at 757-410-5042.