What amount do I have to pay in child support?
The vast majority of the time, child support is calculated according to Guidelines based upon the parties gross incomes. Unless you are self-employed, generally the court will not entertain deviating from the Guidelines.
What if I cannot pay my child support due to something that has happened through no fault of my own, such as a lay-off?
The Virginia Code is clear that no Support Order, including an Order providing for health Insurance coverage may be retroactively modified, except for a period during which there is a Pending Petition for Modification, but only from the date that the Notice of such Petition has been given. Therefore, when you have had a material change in circumstance, where your earning potential has decreased, through no fault of your own, you need to contact a domestic attorney immediately. Every day you let slip by is a day where you continue to be obligated for the amount of support which is currently ordered.
What If I have been served with a Summons for Contempt?
Child support debt is a debt that you can be sent to jail for not paying. The lack of ability to pay can be a defense, but if you have a material change in circumstances as noted above, you need to take action immediately to avoid contempt proceedings. As a person gets behind in child support, the unpaid support accrues interest, and the amount of the debt can actually go up even if you are paying.
More often than not, if you are found guilty of not paying support, the Court will give you an amount of time to purge the “contempt”. If you pay that amount, you will either be released from jail or not have to go to jail. Obviously, the Court nor your child(ren) benefit from you being In jail. Jail is definitely a last resort, but it happens. If you have a Separation Agreement you should note that there is probably a provision regarding attorney’s fees. Call me if you have a question.
What is DCSE?
DCSE is the Division of Child Support Enforcement. Unfortunately, I hear time and time again how frustrating it is to deal with DCSE. I have experienced that frustration on behalf of my clients. The best way to get anything done is to get In contact with a DCSE lawyer, which oftentimes involves placing your case on a hearing day when the DCSE lawyer will be in court. Whether we want to have the non-paying party held in contempt, whether or not DCSE is involved, or if we represent a parent who has an arrearage, DCSE will oftentimes not settle matters outside of court, but a settlement can often be reached if a substantial lump sum amount is paid up front and a reasonable amount is agreed upon to pay monthly toward the arrearage.
What Jurisdiction is the jurisdiction for modification of spousal or child support?
The power to modify spousal support usually stays where the divorce is granted. The Virginia Code does not allow the court to transfer jurisdiction to another state and neither does the Uniform interstate Family Support Act, which many states have adopted. This can be very inconvenient for a party who has moved from the state, as they would have to return to the state where the divorce was granted to have the spousal support amount modified. However, the enforcement of support can be done in any state. The usual procedure is to register the Final Order or Decree of Divorce in the paying spouse’s state by filing certified copies with the local court. The court then takes the necessary action to domesticate the Order and have the support withheld from pay and/or holding the delinquent party in contempt.
Payment can also be enforced by the state granting the divorce. The court can order wage withholding and hold a delinquent party in contempt. It Is more cost effective to do the enforcement in the state where the paying spouse lives and works, however, as the local Sheriff can go to their house and arrest them, if need be. The Sheriff from the state where the divorce was granted has no jurisdiction to cross the state line. An extradition for support or delinquency is virtually unheard of.
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