Virginia Child Support Enforcement
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed March 30, 2018
A child support order is a legal obligation. If the non-custodial parent doesn't pay, he or she can be held in contempt and fined or sent to jail. Also, his or her driver's license or any professional liscense may be suspended. A parent may also have criminal charges brought against them if nonpayment continues for an extended period of time.
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.
Do I Have to Go to Court?
Maybe. The DCSE has strong administrative methods to establish and enforce support orders, and usually refers cases for court action only when those administrative methods have been unsuccessful. Certain situations, such as those involving minor fathers, must be referred for court action. Generally, for the purposes of enforcing orders when administrative enforcement is unsuccessful, cases are referred for court action when support is past-due for more than 90 days and the arrears are at least $500.
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.
Modifying an Order
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.
The following table highlights the main provisions of Virginia's child support enforcement laws.
|Code Section||§ 20-108.1|
|Who is Responsible?||Both Parents|
|Agencies||Department of Child Support Enforcement Services (DCSE)|
|Interest on Missed Child Support Payments||Interest is charged on late child support payments and adjudicated arrears at a rate of 6% on amounts unpaid after 30 days.|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
If the non-custodial parent moves out of Virginia, the support order can still be enforced in any other U.S. state under the Uniform Federal Family Support Act. If you need help locating the other parent, the federal government has a Federal Parent Locator Service.
Get Legal Help with Child Support Enforcement in Virginia
Although the law discourages parents from ignoring their child support obligations, it can be difficult to get actual relief. If you need help enforcing a child support order in Virginia, it's best to speak with an experienced child support lawyer near you today.
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