Divorce and child custody proceedings are often contentious, time consuming and expensive. It is understandable that parties to litigated divorce or child support cases would never want to see a courtroom again, or even think about having to reopen old wounds. The reality is, however, that parties who want to adjust child support need to follow certain steps and procedures, because the consequences for not doing so can be severe.
Pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-108, Virginia courts have the authority to revise and alter prior orders concerning the custody, care and maintenance of a child or children and make new orders, “as the circumstances of the parents and benefit of the children may require.” The amount of child support ordered by a judge may be increased or decreased at any time based on a “material change of circumstances.”
Parties seeking a modification of … Read More »
When most people hear the phrase “teen pregnancy,” they think only of the teenage mothers. But, there are also teenage fathers. Under the law in Virginia, a teenage boy can be determined by the court to be the father of a child, and can be ordered to pay child support for that baby. In proceedings to establish paternity, establish a child support obligation or enforce a child support obligation, teenage boys cannot escape the court’s ruling because of their age.
Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-49.6, a teenage boy between 14 and 18 years of age can be determined by the court to be the father of a child and ordered by the court to pay child support for that child as if he were an adult, if (1) the teenage boy is represented by a guardian ad litem, and (2) the teenage boy has … Read More »
A child support order has been established obligating one parent, called the obligor, to pay child support for the benefit of the child. Time has passed and the obligor has not paid the child support, has not paid it consistently or has only paid a portion of the ordered amount. What next?
Unpaid child support, called an “arrearage” or “back child support,” becomes a judgement by operation of law, and cannot be set aside, changed or discharged in bankruptcy. If the obligor is not paying the ordered amount of child support, a Motion to Show Cause can be filed that requires the obligor to appear in court for a hearing to explain to the judge why he or she should not be held in contempt of court for failing to pay as ordered. Contempt of court for failure to pay can … Read More »
The Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) is currently offering a special incentive program for non-custodial parents who owe a child support debt to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is usually due to the custodial parent on their case having received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid benefits.
Under the DCSE incentive program, any non-custodial parent who visits a DCSE district office in August–September 2015 and makes a lump sum payment will receive a 5% reduction in state debt, even if there is no current support owing.
According to DCSE, each parent who owes a qualifying debt received an automated call in August or September. However, if you have not received such a call, or if you simply wish to get more information and/or see if you qualify for this incentive program, DCSE encourages you to contact your caseworker.
This DCSE incentive program comes on the … Read More »
Establishment of Paternity of a Child Born to a Married Mother
A child born to a married woman in Virginia is presumed to be the child of her husband, so long as they were married for the ten months preceding the birth of the child. The husband is the “presumptive father” of the child, with the same responsibility for child support as a “legal father” (one who has been proven to be the father of a child).
However, the presumption of paternity in Virginia is rebuttable. In other words, the husband has the opportunity to prove that he is not the father despite the fact that he was married to the mother at the time of birth.
There are many ways to rebut the presumption of paternity. Perhaps the easiest and most certain way is to perform genetic paternity testing. In this age … Read More »
Each year, the Virginia legislature considers numerous proposed updates to Virginia family law. These updates range from universally significant changes such as last year’s revised child support guidelines (updated for the first time in nearly thirty years), to the loosened notice requirements for finalizing uncontested divorces, to addressing the perhaps mundane question of whether or not courts should consolidate juvenile cases under single case numbers.
That trend has continued into 2015, with the legislature passing—and Governor McAuliffe signing into law— updated provisions concerning the amount of health insurance cost to be included in calculating child support in Virginia.
Virginia’s child support guidelines provide courts a method for determining child support based on each parent’s income, the support by either parent of “other children” (such as by prior marriages), day care expenses and health care costs. Under the new law, effective July 1, 2015, for purposes of child support the health … Read More »
If you find yourself in the middle of a contested divorce and the stakes are high, you may need more assistance than your attorney can provide. With an eye toward preparing your case for trial or simply aiding in the settlement process, several categories of experts can be utilized to bolster your position and create compelling evidence in your favor.
These experts are typically experienced as trial witnesses, and the best ones come armed with CVs that add weight to their testimony and shield them from withering cross-examination. Experts can also prepare reports for use as evidence in court or as tools to bring the parties closer to settlement.
You should consider whether hiring any of the following six types of experts would be a worthwhile investment of time and money in your ongoing divorce:
Business Evaluator: This expert can be critical in cases … Read More »
What happens to a Virginia child support obligation if the parent who was ordered to pay support starts receiving disability payments instead of a pay check? Can those disability benefits be seized through an income withholding order to pay child support?
Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI). SSI is a Social Security benefit that is based on financial need and does not derive from the recipient’s earnings record. Monthly payments are made to individuals who are 65 years or older, blind or disabled, earn little to no income and have few, if any, resources. A non-custodial parent who receives this type of disability benefit cannot have those monthly payments taken through income withholding. Likewise, any lump sum payment the non-custodial parent receives for past due benefits cannot be taken to satisfy child support arrears.
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI). SSDI is a … Read More »
Most parents facing a separation or divorce understand the importance of determining a child support amount. In Virginia, child support is determined by the application of child support guidelines which consist of a formula that factors in (a) the gross incomes of both parents, (b) any support paid by either parent for children from another marriage or relationship, (c) day care expenses and (d) the cost of health insurance for the child.
The question of how much child support will be paid is clearly important—but what about the question of when it begins? And specifically, when the parties have gone a period of time without a child support order or written agreement in place, is support owed retroactively for that period?
Under Virginia Code §20-108.1, courts in Virginia are to determine child support “retroactively for the period measured from the date that the proceeding was … Read More »
Concerns Over Shariah Law Threaten International Child Support Treaty
A few years ago, we covered federal action on the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. Specifically, I wrote about how the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed key language implementing the Hague Convention in the International Child Support Recovery Act of 2012. While that bill did not ultimately become law, a new issue has recently arisen that jeopardizes U.S. participation in the Hague Convention itself.
As the 2015 session of the Idaho legislature approached closing, the Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee of the Idaho House of Representatives voted to kill an update to Idaho’s version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. The update would have brought child support enforcement methods in Idaho into alignment with the terms of the Hague Convention. The measure had passed the … Read More »