Virginia may face problems enforcing child support orders

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Child Support on Wednesday, November 14, 2012.

Penalties face those Fredericksburg residents who do not pay child support according to a court order or fail to seek an alternative from the court, but even the threat of penalties is sometimes not enough to convince people to abide by their support obligations. A nearby state is facing a problem of more than $2.3 billion in unpaid child support. Officials say resources are strained to track and collect all the money that is owed.

In 2012, the state spent $83.2 million trying to resolve its child support problem. Efforts included tracking down nonpaying non-custodial parents, prosecution of nonpaying parents, establishing child support orders and processing payments.

In general, child support is based on the needs of the child, the income and needs of the custodial parent, the income and ability to pay of the parent paying child support and the child's standard of living prior to any separation or divorce. While some standard guidelines for child support exist under the federal Child Support Enforcement Act, child support guidelines vary by state.

The terms of the child support due are laid out in what is known as a child support order issued by the court. The order will set forth the parties to the agreement, the amount of monthly child support and the method of payment. Penalties for failure to pay will also be identified. The child support order provides the basis upon which a child support enforcement or collection action can be initiated if the obligated parent fails to pay.

Court orders are generally a command from the court requiring a particular action. Upon entry of the child support order by the court, the order is binding on the parties. Punishments for failure to pay the required child support can include wage garnishment, interception of tax refunds, seizure of property, the imposition of fines, license suspension or even jail time.

Penalties, including criminal charges, can face a parent who does not make monthly payments on a child support order. Parents experiencing difficulty can seek child support modification in some instances.

Source:, "Child support $2.3 billion problem in Indiana, Department of Child Services says," Kara Kenney, Nov. 9, 2012.

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