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How does Virginia enforce child support orders that go unpaid?

Divorce has a way of shaking up your financial circumstances. You will have to share your debt, as well as your assets, with your ex. Many people find that they have to adjust their expectation regarding their standard of living. In fact, it can be a downright struggle for you to make ends meet in the days immediately following the end of your marriage.

If you have primary custody of the children from your marriage, that can drastically increase the costs of maintaining your household. You will likely be dependent on child support for making ends meet financially. When your ex doesn't pay child support in full, you may have trouble paying rent or getting your kids the supplies they need for school or extracurricular activities.

Thankfully, the Virginia family court system recognizes how important child support is to the maintenance of minor children from a marriage. If your ex isn't paying, you can request enforcement actions.

The state can garnish wages when someone doesn't pay

The simplest solution to unpaid child support typically involves the Virginia courts garnishing the wages of the non-paying parent. The state will make direct contact with the employer and automate the process of having the funds removed from the paycheck before those funds get disbursed to your ex.

Even if someone wants to avoid paying their child support obligations, a garnishment makes the process automatic. Unfortunately, some people will go to extreme measures to avoid such a garnishment, including leaving a job they have had for some time when the state takes action against them.

The state can seize assets over back-due child support

If someone isn't working or intentionally avoids working a standard, salaried job as a way of avoiding wage garnishment and the obligation to pay child support, Virginia can take other actions to collect child support.

Provided that the parent receiving support validates the issue and has the state intervene, it may be possible for the state to intercept gambling and lottery winnings before they go to the parent not paying support. It is also possible for the state to intercept both federal and state tax returns as a means of collecting unpaid support obligations.

The state can make it hard for your ex to ignore their obligation

Some parents still won't pay child support even if they know the state is actively trying to collect it. They may do this as a way to get back at their ex, while ignoring the negative impact it will have on the children. To protect the children dependent on support, the state can also take more extreme measures when necessary.

For example, the state can refuse to renew someone's professional or sporting licenses. That could mean that your ex can't renew a license to practice their profession or enjoy their favorite hobbies, such as hunting and fishing. In some cases, the state can also prevent the renewal of a driver's license or keep someone from obtaining or renewing a passport because of unpaid child support obligations.

In severe circumstances of ongoing unpaid support, the courts may even issue a bench warrant for contempt of court. In that circumstance, your ex could find themselves facing arrest and a court hearing related to their unwillingness to pay child support.

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MacDowell Law Group, P.C.

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Fairfax, VA 22030

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