Child Support Frequently Asked Questions
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To begin a child custody, visitation, or support case, the person seeking a petition should contact the local court services unit intake office
at the following address/telephone number to schedule an appointment. An intake officer will assist you in the preparation of petitions.
9540 Center Street, Suite #200
Manassas, VA 20110
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
15950 Cardinal Drive
Woodbridge, VA 22191
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you are seeking child support you can also contact the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) for assistance at:
8551Rixlew Lane, 4th Floor
Manassas, VA 20110
DCSE personnel will help you fill out an application and provide a Court representative to go to Court with you on the date of your hearing to assist you in obtaining a child support order.
1. Entitled to have DCSE represent you in Court.
2. Assistance locating the other party.
3. Enforcement capability. Access to tax refunds.
To file a juvenile petition before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, contact the Juvenile Court Intake Department
in one of the following offices:
If there are other family law cases in Prince William County, or the Cities of Manassas or Manassas Park, involving the parties and/or the children whose support is addressed, either party may file a Motion to Consolidate. This allows the Court to combine all the cases to be heard at the same time. The motion should identify all other cases by case number.
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What happens when the JDR District Court enters a preliminary hearing order?
You may ask the Court to consider the following:
(1) The order may require home studies to be conducted by the Department of Social Services which will require eight to ten weeks if the parties live within Prince William County. If parties live outside of Prince William County it may take longer. You may have to pay the costs of the home study.
(2) The order may require psychological examinations of any one or all of the parties.
(3) The order may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to protect and represent the interests of the child in connection with all court proceedings. (Attorney certified by the Virginia Supreme Court)
(4) The case will be scheduled for a Pretrial Conference.
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The pretrial conference is a brief hearing (15 minutes) with the parties, counsel & Guardian ad Litem. The following pretrial order requires that the following information be provided to the court in writing three (3) days prior to the pretrial conference, with copies to all parties:
(1) A statement of the issues that have been resolved.
(2) A statement of the factual and legal contentions that remain in dispute.
(3) A statement summarizing the parties efforts to settle the case.
(4) A list of stipulated evidence (Evidence that all parties agree on)
(5) A list of addresses and witnesses you expect to call at the trial, with a brief summary of the testimony of each witness. Any changes have to be made at least 10 days prior to the trial date. Those witnesses not listed will not be permitted to testify.
(6) An estimate of time necessary for the trial.
At the end of the pretrial conference an order will be agreed upon or a trial date will be set.
Once you have filed your petition with the local intake office, or local Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), the petition will be forwarded to the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office will assign the first available court date and the petition and summons will be sent to the Sheriff’s Department for service on all of the parties. If one of the parties resides outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the summons and petition is forwarded by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Determination of custody, visitation and/or support is decided by the judge at the trial. The judge will consider several factors listed in the Virginia Code, Section 20-124.3 to determine custody and visitation of minor children. (The Code Section is available at the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk’s Office
You may present evidence at the trial relevant to the factors listed through your own testimony, documents, pictures and the testimony of witnesses.
Witnesses include, but are not limited to you, friends and relatives close to you and your children, child care providers for the children, teachers and counselors for the children.
To formally request that a witness be present at the trial, you must obtain a Request for Witness Subpoena form from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations (JDR) District Court Clerk’s Office
or online. Any Requests for Witness Subpoena must be filed with the JDR Clerk’s Office at least 10 days prior to the trial date in order for the Sheriff to serve the subpoena. The witness must reside in the state of Virginia.
HOW TO SUBPOENA DOCUMENTS/RECORDS:
The custodian of the records is the person who has the records in their possession. Documents should be sent to the JDR Clerk’s Office. This is done by marking an 'x' in the second box under line one (1) of the Subpoena Duces Tecum. The date on which to return the documents should be the trial date, or a date prior to the trial date.
All persons required to appear before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court should arrive on time, at the time and place stated on the petition, summons, bail form or subpoena. It is important that everyone involved in a case be ready when the case is called into the courtroom. Though the wait may seem long, everyone must remain until the case is called; to do otherwise is a criminal offense. The court does not have child care services; therefore, the only children who should be brought to court are those children involved in the case, whose presence has been requested or required by the Court, an attorney or probation officer.
The first hearing is called a Preliminary Hearing. People involved in the Court hearing will already have received a copy of the Preliminary Hearing Notice with their summons and petition. The hearing is scheduled for seven minutes. When you arrive for your hearing, you should look for your name on the docket which is located on the wall between courtrooms two and three (2 and 3). This will tell you the courtroom in which the case will be heard. Then you should listen for your name to be called. When you appear, the judge will do one of the following:
(1) Enter an order reflecting an agreement you have made with the other parties in the case.
(2) Enter an order in the absence of a party if that party has been properly served with notice of the preliminary hearing.
(3) Set your case for pre-trial conference if the matter is contested. (all parties do not agree)
The Court will enter a Preliminary Hearing Order and provide copies to all parties. You are expected to read the order and follow its provisions.
The Court assumes that once a child support order is entered, the respondent (the one paying the child support), is paying and is able to pay the amount ordered.
You may have to go back to Court if one of two things occurs.
First, if financial or other circumstances that affect the monetary resources available to either party change, or if the living circumstances of either party change, it is important to tell this information to the Court. If you are the respondent, and you lose your job or the amount of your income decreases, you should immediately notify the Court by filing a motion to decrease the amount of child support. If you are the petitioner (the one receiving the child support), and you discover that the respondent is earning much more money than when the order was originally established, you may want to file a motion to increase the child support.
Second, if a respondent has not been paying child support and is able to pay, (s)he may be liable both civilly and criminally. There are certain enforcement mechanisms available to enforce child support orders, and a petitioner may contact the Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), at 8551 Rixlew Lane, 4th Floor, Manassas, VA 20110, telephone: 1-800-468-8894, to obtain assistance in enforcing the order.
If a new motion is filed, you will get a Notice of Hearing informing you of a new Court date. It is very important for this reason to keep your home or mailing address up to date, and inform the Court if either changes.
If your home or work address has changed, please send a written statement/letter notifying the Court of your new address. Always include your case number in your letter and send copies to the other parties and to the Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE)if the DCSE is handling your case to Dept. of Child Support Enforcement, 8551 Rixlew lane, 4th Floor, Manassas, VA 20110; Telephone: 1-800-468-8894.
If other circumstances have changed affecting your income and/or expenses, or if the living circumstances of the child(ren) have changed, file a written document called an "A Motion" to inform the Court of this change. There are many different types of motions, and each motion must be filed along with the reasons for your motion.
Child support is determined according to the Child Support Guidelines, Virginia Code section 20-108.2. Usually no deviations from the amount are ordered unless the facts of the case justify deviation per Virginia Code section 20-108.1. (For a worksheet, contact the Juvenile and Domestic Relations clerk’s office
The judge will need the following information to determine the child support amount:
(1) Your monthly gross income (income from all sources).
(2) The other side’s monthly gross income.
(3) The monthly child care costs.
(4) The monthly health insurance premium for the children.
(5) Any extraordinary medical/dental expenses for the children not covered by insurance.
(6) Whether you support any other children.
Write down any important points you feel are relevant to your case in order to present your case to the judge in an orderly and organized manner. Also, be prepared to present relevant and admissible documents to the judge and prepare questions in advance for witnesses you intend to call to testify.
If your home or work address has changed, just send a written statement/letter notifying the Court of your new address. Always include your case number in your letter and send copies to the other parties involved and the Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE)if they are handling your case to: Dept. of Child Support Enforcement, 8551 Rixlew Lane, 4th Floor,Manassas, VA 20110, telephone: 1-800-468-8894.
If other circumstances have changed affecting your income and/or expenses, or if the living circumstances of the child(ren) have changed, file a written document called an A motion to inform the Court of this change. There are many different types of motions, and each motion must be filed along with the reasons for your motion.
Once the Court has ordered the payment of child support, only the Court may make changes in the order. The law provides that the order may be changed if the party requesting the change shows the Court that there has been a material change in circumstances. If any of the following changes occur after the Court has issued a child support order, you should file a motion in the original case that established the last order. The forms for this motion, which is called a Respondent's Motion To Decrease or Terminate Child Support, are available from the clerk in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk's Office and with the intake office. Filing this motion in writing is the only way to get a hearing before a judge to change your Court order.
The changes that may affect your current support order include, but are not limited to:
(1) A loss or change of employment.
(2) The birth of another child.
(3) The entry of a child support order from any Court for another child.
(4) A serious medical problem requiring unusual medical expenses for you or someone in your household.
(5) A child attaining the age of 18 years, or joining the military or marrying.
(6) Any significant decrease in income or change in your financial situation.
When you file a written motion, use plain language and do not worry about using legal words. Always make two copies of any documents you file in your case. Give the clerk the original of the written motion and send one copy of that motion to the other party in the case. You should have the second copy date-stamped by the clerk to keep as your proof that you filed the motion. If DCSE is involved in the case, you should forward a third copy of your motion to that office.
After you have filed your motion, you will receive notice in the mail of when and where your case will be heard. If you do not come to Court for that hearing, your motion to modify the Court order will be denied for failure to prosecute, and the current order will remain in effect. When you come to Court for your hearing, bring any papers you want the judge to consider to prove that your circumstances have changed since the current order was entered. Documents that prove a change in annual gross income include current pay stubs. Documents that prove a change in expenses or other circumstances could include a copy of child support orders for payment of support of other children or birth certificates and affidavits of any new children living with the non-custodial parent.
Once the Court has ordered the payment of child support, only the Court may make changes in the order. The law provides that the order may be changed if the party requesting the change shows the Court that there has been a material change in circumstances. If you are the petitioner and your income has decreased substantially, or your household situation changes and you are supporting more children, or you know that the respondent's income has increased, you may need to file a Motion To Increase Child Support. You may contact the Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), at 8551 Rixlew Lane, 4th floor, Manassas, VA 20110, telephone: 1-800-468-8894, to obtain assistance in filing this motion. Sample motions are available through the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk's Office and the intake office.
If the respondent has been ordered to pay child support or obtain medical insurance and does not do so, the petitioner has several tools for enforcing the order. The Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), at 8551 Rixlew lane, 4th Floor, Manassas, VA 20110, telephone: 1-800-468-8894, can assist petitioners in attaching the respondent's property and intercepting the respondent's income tax refund or unemployment benefits to pay back support.
In addition, the petitioner can file pro se (which means that you are not represented by an attorney) a Motion to Show Cause Why Contempt Should Not Be Granted, commonly known as a Motion for Contempt, when the respondent has failed to comply with the Court's order. This motion asks the Court to enter a civil contempt finding against the respondent, and it can result in the respondent serving a jail sentence. The purpose of the motion is not to punish the respondent, but to make the respondent pay child support. As a result, the Court always gives the respondent a chance to either avoid or end any jail sentence by paying a specific amount of support.
The motion must request a contempt finding and contain a sworn statement by the petitioner describing the child support or medical insurance order, and indicating that the respondent has not complied. The petitioner should also attach a copy of the Court's order that is being referenced.
After petitioner prepares the motion, signs it, and has it notarized, he or she must file the motion with the clerk of the Court. A hearing date will be set and the respondent will be served with the motion. Both parties must attend the hearing on the motion for contempt. If the petitioner does not appear, the Court could deny the motion. If the respondent does not appear, the Court usually issues a warrant for his or her arrest.
At the hearing, the petitioner must show that the respondent had a duty to pay support or provide medical insurance and has not done so. The petitioner can usually do this by showing the Court a copy of the support order. The respondent then must convince the Court that he or she has a legitimate defense. The most common defense to a motion for contempt is inability to pay, but respondents also sometimes prove that they have already paid the amount owed, or that they had no obligation to provide support. The respondent should bring to the hearing any witnesses or documents he or she may have that will help convince the Court that the respondent has complied with the order, or had a good reason for not complying with the Court order. This proof will help the respondent avoid a finding of contempt.
If the Court finds the respondent had the ability to pay and failed to pay, the Court may sentence the respondent to serve some time in jail. When the Court sets a jail sentence, the judge must also set a purge amount, which is the amount the respondent must pay to be released from jail. This purge amount must be an amount that the respondent can pay. At the time of the sentence, the respondent should tell the Court what his or her financial circumstances are so that the Court will set the purge amount at a level that will allow the respondent to be released from jail upon payment.
If the Court does not send the respondent to jail right away, the Court may set up a payment plan to allow the respondent to pay off the back support, or may require the respondent to look for work. When this occurs, the Court often requires the respondent to return to Court several times to report on his or her progress. The Court can send the respondent to jail at one of these later hearings if the respondent does not comply with the Court's plan.