I get a lot of questions about child support obligations and the fact that the person ordered to make the payments has had his or her income reduced because of ___________ (there are lots of reasons, including the recent furloughs).
The most common reaction is that people just decide to not pay because they don’t have the money. This is a BAD decision.
In Virginia, if you don’t make your child support payments, you can end up in jail for up to 12 months. That’s right, you can go to jail for not making your child support payments. And guess what happens to your child support obligation while you’re in jail? It just keeps on going and your past due balance keeps getting bigger and interest on that past due balance keeps accumulating. The hole just keeps getting bigger.
You can also have any tax refunds diverted to make a payment toward child support. And your driver’s license may be suspended.
All in all, it is not a pleasant experience.
So, what are you supposed to do if you’ve been furloughed, fired, or laid off, or you just can’t find a job and your income has been reduced?
First of all, you should know how child support is calculated to see if your reduced income will make a difference. I wrote a post here about how to calculate child support and here about where to find a calculator online.
If it looks like your reduced income will make a difference, you should contact the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District (JDR) court where the last court order was entered that told you to make child support payments. Ask them about the procedure for submitting a petition to amend child support.
If your case was done through the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), then go to the office where your case is being handled and ask for a reconsideration and recalculation.
If your child support obligation was set during a divorce proceeding, you need to check the final decree of divorce to see if the matters concerning child support have been transferred to the JDR court.
It is sometimes confusing, so it might be a good idea to at least have a consultation with an attorney about what to do. We often have people come into the office for a consultation and we are able to give them enough information for them to complete the process on their own.
You also want to be sure to make some sort of payment on your child support even if you can’t make the entire payment each month. This shows good faith, and it will also help minimize the past due amount that is being charged interest.
What you do NOT want to do is just ignore the fact that your income has been reduced and you can not make your payments.
If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.