When a Virginia family court determines the child support amount, it does so only after taking into consideration yours and your child’s other parent’s full financial situation. The court would not order you to pay an amount you could not reasonably afford. That said, if you fail to make a payment, the courts want to know your failure to do so was the result of extenuating circumstances and not an act of your own volition. If the courts determine you missed a payment “just because,” you may face steep penalties, which may include fines and jail time.

According to FindLaw, if you do miss several child support payments and do not contact the courts to inform them of a change in circumstances, the courts will act for you. The child support enforcement agency may contact your employer and ask him or her to withhold your wages. If you do not work but rather receive unemployment, social security or veterans’ disability compensation, the DCSE will reach out to the appropriate agency and request that it withhold your benefits.

If you own property, the courts may place a lien on said property. If the IRS owes you a federal or state tax return, the DCSE may garnish that to pay off arrears. To encourage you to make payments, the courts may suspend your driving, occupational, recreational and/or sporting licenses. In extreme circumstances, the courts may have to file contempt of court actions and put a bench warrant out for your arrest.

You can avoid all of the above by contacting the courts as soon after you begin experiencing financial difficulties as possible. After explaining to the judge why you cannot make payments, he or she may agree to modify your support order to a more feasible amount.

This content is for educational purposes only. You should not construe it as legal advice.