Greater child support collection in Virginia due to online portal

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Child Support on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

When parents separate, it can be difficult to communicate and agree on arrangements relating to children and their needs. Because of personal conflicts, simple inconvenience, forgetfulness or other factors, child support payments frequently go unpaid. Fortunately, states and agencies, including Virginia, are developing new systems for collecting child support that increase amounts paid and make the process easier for everyone involved.

In Virginia, a good portion of the nearly 330,000 children receiving child support are benefiting from a recently redesigned child support online portal. Although the portal was first introduced in 2007, it was redesigned and re-launched in 2009. Since the redevelopment, the amount of child support payments processed through the portal has continued to increase. Approximately $3.5 million in child support is paid via the portal each month, representing an 18 percent increase in 2012. Administrative costs involved in collecting child support and the time it takes for support payments to reach parents and children have decreased due to the portal's ability to accept payments from non-custodial parents and employers at all times.

Child support enforcement is a frequently discussed issue in Virginia and across the country as failure to pay child support can be detrimental to a child's health, school performance and overall well-being. During a divorce, judges rely on the Virginia Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of child support to be paid. Getting an order for child support is only the first step, however, as the order is effectively meaningless if a parent refuses or fails to pay.

When non-custodial parents fail to pay child support because of their own financial hardships, a child support modification may be necessary so that both the child and parent's needs are taken into account. In other cases, though, the failure to pay may be due to animosity between parents or logistical hurdles that make paying support difficult. Electronic systems like the one being used in Virginia can allow parents to make payments whenever it is convenient for them, without interaction with the other parent, which can result in more payments collected and better provision for children's needs.

Source: PilotOnline.com, "Use of Virginia online child support program grows," Jan. 30, 2013

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