At Morse Investigation Services, we understand that there is often confusion about Child Custody and Child Support. These items are often thought of as one, when in fact they should be treated very differently.
In Virginia Custody and Visitation are determined either by consent order or by a judges order. This determination will lay the groundwork for a steady schedule for the juvenile to depend on.
It is essential that, when possible, both parents work together towards the best interest of the child.
Child Support is either determined by consent order or by an authority with proper jurisdiction over your case. You can use a Child Support Calculator to determine what the support obligations should be.
Remember that just because you do not receive or pay Child Support does not mean that you can alter the Custody and Visitation Schedule at will. This is a common pitfall in cases regarding family law that you should avoid.
In Virginia, disputes over the custody or visitation of a juvenile are usually heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. In cases involving issues of custody or visitation between parents regarding their juvenile, the court will often craft an order necessary to protect the interests of the juvenile and family.
Where a parent or guardian seeks to be relieved of the custody of any juvenile or when a public or private agency petitions to be granted custody of the juvenile, the court shall grant such relief only if suitable placement for the juvenile is available (should the juvenile need such placement) and if placement of the juvenile outside his/her present home will not have a detrimental effect on the juvenile. The Virginia Courts will separate a juvenile from his/her parents or guardians only when the juvenile’s welfare is endangered or separation is in the interest of public safety.
Under Virginia law, parents or spouses who fail in their obligations to support and maintain their dependents may be required by the court or the Division of Child Support Enforcement to provide such support. To begin a support case, the person seeking support should contact either the Division of Child Support Enforcement (by calling this toll-free number 1-800- 468-8894) or the local court service unit intake officer. An explanation of the options available in seeking support either through the Division of Child Support Enforcement (which may file a petition in court or use other methods) or by personally filing a petition with the intake officer in your local county or city.
What happens when you fail to pay your Child Support ?
In Virginia’s juvenile and domestic relations district courts, either a civil support case or a criminal desertion/non-support case may be filed. In a civil case, any spouse or parent found by the court to owe a duty to provide support and maintenance may be ordered to make periodic payments in a manner prescribed by the court and may be required to post a performance bond. In criminal cases, any spouse or parent found by the court to have failed in his/her duty to provide support and maintenance (once a court order is in place) is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is subject to a fine of up to $500 and up to 12 months in jail. Persons failing to make support payments may lose their professional or occupational license or their driver’s license. In place of or in addition to paying a fine and/or being sent to jail, a judge may order the spouse or parent to make certain periodic payments in a manner prescribed by the court. The judge may then release the negligent spouse or parent on the condition that he/she comply with all conditions of the court’s order.
Any person subject to such an order who continues to fail to provide support in the manner ordered by the court may be jailed or be required to post a bond. The court may (and in some cases must) require that support payments be deducted by the employer from the earnings of the spouse or parent who fails to pay support. Persons summoned to court who fail to appear may be charged with a criminal misdemeanor charge of Failure to Appear and are subject to immediate arrest.