Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 63.2. Welfare (Social Services)
Chapter 19. Child Support Enforcement

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 63.2-1900. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Administrative order" or "administrative support order" means a noncourt-ordered legally enforceable support obligation having the force and effect of a support order established by the court.

"Assignment of rights" means the legal procedure whereby an individual assigns support rights to the Commonwealth on behalf of a dependent child or spouse and dependent child.

"Authorization to seek or enforce a support obligation" means a signed authorization to the Commonwealth to seek or enforce support on behalf of a dependent child or a spouse and dependent child or on behalf of a person deemed to have submitted an application by operation of law.

"Cash medical support" means the proportional amount the court or the Department shall order both parents to pay toward reasonable and necessary unreimbursed medical or dental expenses pursuant to subsection D of § 20-108.2.

"Court order" means any judgment or order of any court having jurisdiction to order payment of support or an order of a court of comparable jurisdiction of another state ordering payment of a set or determinable amount of support moneys.

"Custodial parent" means the natural or adoptive parent with whom the child resides; a stepparent or other person who has physical custody of the child and with whom the child resides; or a local board that has legal custody of a child in foster care.

"Debt" means the total unpaid support obligation established by court order, administrative process or by the payment of public assistance and owed by a noncustodial parent to either the Commonwealth or to his dependent(s).

"Department-sponsored health care coverage" means any health care coverage that the Department may make available through a private contractor for children receiving child support services from the Department.

"Dependent child" means any person who meets the eligibility criteria set forth in § 63.2-602, whose support rights have been assigned or whose authorization to seek or enforce a support obligation has been given to the Commonwealth and whose support is required by Titles 16.1 and 20.

"Electronic means" means service of a required notice by the Department through its secure online child support portal to any person who has agreed to accept service through the portal and has created a user account. The portal shall record and maintain the date and time service is accepted by the user.

"Employee" means any individual receiving income.

"Employer" means the source of any income.

"Financial institution" means a depository institution, an institution-affiliated party, any federal credit union or state credit union including an institution-affiliated party of such a credit union, and any benefit association, insurance company, safe deposit company, money market mutual fund, or similar entity authorized to do business in the Commonwealth.

"Financial records" includes, but is not limited to, records held by employers showing income, profit sharing contributions and benefits paid or payable and records held by financial institutions, broker-dealers and other institutions and entities showing bank accounts, IRA and separate contributions, gross winnings, dividends, interest, distributive share, stocks, bonds, agricultural subsidies, royalties, prizes and awards held for or due and payable to a responsible person.

"Foreign support order" means any order issued outside of the Commonwealth by a court or tribunal as defined in § 20-88.32.

"Health care coverage" means any plan providing hospital, medical or surgical care coverage for dependent children provided such coverage is available and can be obtained by a parent, parents, or a parent's spouse at a reasonable cost.

"Income" means any periodic or other form of payment due an individual from any source and shall include, but not be limited to, income from salaries, wages, commissions, royalties, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, veterans' benefits, spousal support, net rental income, gifts, prizes or awards.

"Independent contractor" means an individual who (i) provides any service performed for remuneration or under any contract of hire, written or oral, express or implied, and (ii) is not an employee pursuant to the definition of "employment" in § 60.2-212.

"Mistake of fact" means an error in the identity of the payor or the amount of current support or arrearage.

"Net income" means that income remaining after the following deductions have been taken from gross income: federal income tax, state income tax, federal income compensation act benefits, any union dues where collection thereof is required under federal law, and any other amounts required by law.

"Noncustodial parent" means a responsible person who is or may be obligated under Virginia law for support of a dependent child or child's caretaker.

"Obligee" means (i) an individual to whom a duty of support is or is alleged to be owed or in whose favor a support order has been issued or a judgment determining parentage has been rendered, (ii) a state or political subdivision to which the rights under a duty of support or support order have been assigned or that has independent claims based on financial assistance provided to an individual obligee, or (iii) an individual seeking a judgment determining parentage of the individual's child.

"Obligor" means an individual, or the estate of a decedent, who (i) owes or is alleged to owe a duty of support, (ii) is alleged but has not been adjudicated to be a parent of a child, or (iii) is liable under a support order.

"Payee" means any person to whom spousal or child support is to be paid.

"Reasonable cost" pertaining to health care coverage for dependent children means available, in an amount not to exceed five percent of the gross income of the parent responsible for providing health care coverage, and accessible through employers, unions or other groups, or Department-sponsored health care coverage, without regard to service delivery mechanism; unless the court deems otherwise in the best interests of the child, including where the only health care coverage available exceeds five percent, or by agreement of the parties.

1974, c. 413, § 63.1-250; 1975, cc. 311, 596; 1976, c. 357; 1983, c. 66; 1985, c. 488; 1986, c. 594; 1988, c. 906; 1991, cc. 651, 694; 1997, cc. 796, 895; 1998, c. 727; 2002, cc. 747, 844; 2007, c. 600; 2009, c. 713; 2010, c. 243; 2016, c. 29; 2020, cc. 213, 722.

§ 63.2-1901. Purpose of chapter; powers and duties of the Department.

It is the purpose of this chapter to promote the efficient and accurate collection, accounting and receipt of support for financially dependent children and their custodians, and to further the effective and timely enforcement of such support while ensuring that all functions in the Department are appropriate or necessary to comply with applicable federal law.

Nonattorney employees of the Department are authorized to complete, sign and file petitions and motions on forms approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia relating to the establishment, modification, or enforcement of support in Department cases in the juvenile and domestic relations district courts. Orders entered prior to July 1, 2008, shall not be deemed void or voidable solely because such petitions and motions were signed by nonattorney employees.

When so ordered by the court or the Department, support for financially dependent children and their custodians shall be paid by obligors to the Department's State Disbursement Unit (SDU) or in district offices located within the Commonwealth for processing by the SDU. The Department shall have authority to enter into contracts with any appropriate public or private entities to enforce, collect, account for and disburse payments for child or spousal support.

The Division of Child Support Enforcement within the Department shall be authorized to issue payments to implement the disbursement of funds pursuant to the provisions of this section.

1974, c. 413, § 63.1-249; 1975, c. 596; 1976, c. 357; 1987, cc. 658, 706; 1998, c. 727; 2001, c. 573; 2002, c. 747; 2008, cc. 136, 845.

§ 63.2-1902. Central unit for information and administration; request and receipt of information from other entities and agencies; disclosure of such information.

The Department is authorized and directed to establish a central unit within the Department to administer the Title IV D State Plan according to 45 C.F.R. 302.12. The central unit shall have the statewide jurisdiction and authority to:

1. Establish a registry for the receipt of information;

2. Answer interstate inquiries concerning noncustodial parents;

3. Coordinate and supervise departmental activities in relation to noncustodial parents to ensure effective cooperation with law-enforcement agencies; and

4. Contract and enter into cooperative agreements with individuals and agencies including law-enforcement agencies, in order that they may assist the Department in its responsibilities.

The central unit within the Department shall supervise offices whose primary functions are:

a. Location of absent noncustodial parents;

b. Assessment of the ability of parents to pay child or child and spousal support and to obtain health care coverage or cash medical support, or both, for dependent children;

c. Establishment, modification and enforcement of support obligations including health care coverage for dependent children, through administrative action;

d. Preparation of individual cases for court action existing under all laws of the Commonwealth;

e. Ensuring on a consistent basis that support continues in all cases in which support is assessed administratively or ordered by the court; and

f. Provision of its services in establishing paternity and establishing and enforcing support obligations equally to public-assisted and nonpublic-assisted families.

To effectuate the purposes of this section, the Commissioner may request and shall receive from the records of state, county and local agencies within and without the Commonwealth, including but not limited to such agencies and entities responsible for vital records; tax and revenue; real and titled personal property; authorizations to engage in a business, trade, profession or occupation; employment security; motor vehicle licensing and registration; public assistance programs and corrections, all information and assistance as authorized by this chapter. The Commissioner may request from state and local criminal justice agencies within the Commonwealth assistance in locating and serving individuals who owe child support and have an outstanding civil show cause summons or capias pursuant to § 16.1-278.16. Solely for the purposes of obtaining motor vehicle licensing and registration information from entities within and without the Commonwealth, the Division of Child Support Enforcement shall be deemed to be a criminal justice agency.

With respect to individuals who owe child support or are alleged in a pending paternity proceeding to be a putative father, the Commissioner may request and shall receive the names and addresses of such individuals and the names and addresses of such individuals' employers as appearing in the customer records of public service corporations and companies as defined in § 56-1, cable television companies and financial institutions. All state, county and city departments, boards, bureaus or other entities or agencies, officers and employees shall cooperate in the location of noncustodial parents who have abandoned or deserted, or are failing to support, children and their custodial parents and shall on request supply the Department with all information on hand relative to the location, income, benefits and property of such noncustodial parents, notwithstanding any provision of law making such information confidential. These entities are authorized to provide such information as is necessary for this purpose. Only information directly bearing on the identity and whereabouts of a person owing or asserted to be owing an obligation of support shall be requested and used or transmitted by the Commissioner. The Commissioner may make such information available only to public officials, agencies and political subdivisions of this Commonwealth, and other states seeking to locate parents who have deserted their children and other persons liable for support of dependents for the purpose of enforcing their liability for support. A civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 may be assessed by the Commissioner for a failure to respond to a request for information made in accordance with this section.

Any public or private person, partnership, firm, corporation or association, any financial institution and any political subdivision, department or other entity of the Commonwealth who in good faith and in the absence of gross negligence, willful misconduct or breach of an ethical duty, provide information requested pursuant to this section shall be immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise result from the release of such information to the Department.

1988, c. 906, § 63.1-274.6; 1990, c. 836; 1991, cc. 545, 588; 1994, c. 665; 1997, cc. 796, 895; 2001, c. 573; 2002, c. 747; 2003, cc. 467, 929, 942; 2009, c. 713.

§ 63.2-1903. Authority to issue certain orders; civil penalty.

A. In the absence of a court order, the Department shall have the authority to issue orders directing the payment of child and child and spousal support and, if available at reasonable cost as defined in § 63.2-1900, to require a provision for health care coverage, including Department-sponsored health care coverage, or cash medical support, or both, for dependent children of the parents, which shall include the requirements specified for employers pursuant to subdivision B 5 of § 20-79.3. The Department shall have the authority to make available Department-sponsored health care coverage for children receiving child support services from the Department. If it appears that the gross income of the custodial parent of the dependent child is equal to or less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from time to time, the Department shall refer the dependent child to the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan pursuant to § 32.1-351. However, prior to referring the dependent child to the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan, the Department shall confirm that neither parent has access to health care coverage at a reasonable cost for the dependent child. If a child is enrolled in Department-sponsored health care coverage, the Department shall collect the cost of the coverage pursuant to subsection E of § 20-108.2.

In ordering the payment of child support, the Department shall set such support at the amount resulting from computation pursuant to the guideline set out in § 20-108.2, subject to the provisions of § 63.2-1918.

B. When a payee no longer has physical custody of a child, the Department shall have the authority to redirect child support payments to a custodial parent who has physical custody of the child when an assignment of rights has been made to the Department or an application for services has been made by such custodial parent with the Division of Child Support Enforcement.

C. The Department shall have the authority, upon notice from the Department of Medical Assistance Services, to use any existing enforcement mechanisms provided by this chapter to collect the wages, salary, or other employment income or to withhold amounts from state tax refunds of any obligor who has not used payments received from a third party to reimburse, as appropriate, either the other parent of such child or the provider of such services, to the extent necessary to reimburse the Department of Medical Assistance Services.

D. The Department may order the obligor and payee to notify each other or the Department upon request of current gross income as defined in § 20-108.2 and any other pertinent information that may affect child support amounts. For good cause shown, the Department may order that such information be provided to the Department and made available to the parties for inspection in lieu of the parties' providing such information directly to each other. The Department shall record the social security number of each party or control number issued to a party by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to § 46.2-342 in the Department's file of the case.

E. The Department shall develop procedures governing the method and timing of periodic review and adjustment of child support orders established or enforced or both pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, as amended. If there is an assignment under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act or at the request of either parent subject to the order, the Department shall initiate a review of such order every three years without requiring proof or showing of a change in circumstances and shall initiate appropriate action to adjust such order in accordance with the provisions of § 20-108.2 and subject to the provisions of § 63.2-1918.

F. In order to provide essential information for whatever establishment or enforcement actions are necessary for the collection of child support, the Commissioner, the Director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement, and district managers of Division of Child Support Enforcement offices shall have the right to (i) subpoena financial records of, or other information relating to, the noncustodial parent and obligee from any person, firm, corporation, association, or political subdivision or department of the Commonwealth and (ii) summons the noncustodial parent and obligee to appear in the Division's offices. The Commissioner, Director, and district managers may also subpoena copies of state and federal income tax returns. The district managers shall be trained in the correct use of the subpoena process prior to exercising subpoena authority. A civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 may be assessed by the Commissioner for a failure to respond to a subpoena issued pursuant to this subsection.

G. In the absence of a court order, the Department may establish an administrative support order on an out-of-state obligor pursuant to subdivision A 8 or 9 of § 8.01-328.1 or § 20-88.35. The Department may also take action to enforce an administrative or court order on an out-of-state obligor. Service of such actions shall be in accordance with the provisions of § 8.01-296, 8.01-327 or 8.01-329 or by certified mail, return receipt requested, or electronic means in accordance with § 63.2-1917.

H. If a support order has been issued in another state but the obligor, the obligee, and the child now live in the Commonwealth, the Department may (i) enforce the order without registration, using all enforcement remedies available under this chapter, and (ii) register the order in the appropriate tribunal of the Commonwealth for enforcement or modification.

1985, c. 488, § 63.1-250.1; 1986, c. 594; 1988, cc. 906, 907; 1989, c. 599; 1990, c. 836; 1991, cc. 651, 694; 1992, c. 716; 1994, cc. 729, 767; 1995, c. 595; 1996, cc. 491, 882, 925, 948; 1997, cc. 440, 467, 794, 796, 895, 898; 2002, cc. 747, 844; 2007, c. 600; 2009, cc. 125, 713; 2016, c. 29; 2020, c. 722; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 206.

§ 63.2-1904. Administrative support remedies available for individuals not receiving public assistance; fees.

The Department shall make available to those individuals not receiving public assistance, upon receipt of an authorization to seek or enforce a support obligation the same support services provided to recipients of public assistance. These services may include, but are not limited to:

1. Locating noncustodial parents to obtain child support;

2. Establishing paternity;

3. Establishing or modifying child support obligations, that shall include a provision for health care coverage for dependent children of the parents; and

4. Enforcing and collecting child support obligations; however, the only support in arrears that may be enforced by administrative action is (i) arrearages accrued or accruing under a court order or decree or (ii) arrearages on an administrative order accruing from the entry of such administrative order.

No individual shall be required to obtain support services from the Department prior to commencing a judicial proceeding to establish, modify, enforce or collect a child support obligation.

The Board shall charge the following fees:

a. One dollar, upon application for services pursuant to this section. At the option of the Department, the fee may be paid by the Department on behalf of the applicants;

b. Twenty-five dollars, for the cost of reopening a case within six months of requesting case closure; and

c. Thirty-five dollars per federal fiscal year in each case of an obligee who has never received assistance pursuant to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and for whom the Department has collected at least $550 of child support annually. The Department shall collect and retain such fee from the amount of child support collected annually in excess of $550.

The Department is further designated as the public entity responsible for implementing immediate income withholding pursuant to § 466 of the Social Security Act, as amended.

1985, c. 488, § 63.1-250.2; 1986, c. 594; 1988, c. 906; 1992, c. 527; 1995, c. 714; 2002, c. 747; 2007, cc. 11, 600; 2019, c. 165.

§ 63.2-1905. Establishment of State Case Registry.

The Department shall keep and maintain a State Case Registry (Registry) that contains case records of services provided by the Division of Child Support Enforcement, as well as each support order established or modified in the Commonwealth. Records contained in this Registry shall be promptly updated, maintained, and regularly monitored, and shall include (i) information on administrative actions and administrative and judicial proceedings and orders relating to paternity establishment and support; (ii) information obtained from comparison with federal, state or local sources of information; (iii) information on support collections and distributions; and (iv) any other relevant information. The Supreme Court of Virginia shall report information concerning judicial proceedings and orders relating to paternity and support to the Department. The Department shall be permitted to disseminate Registry information for information comparisons with other state and federal agencies, and as may be required pursuant to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193) and any regulations adopted thereto. Such information comparison activities shall include the following: (a) Federal Case Registry of Child Support Orders, (b) Federal Parent Locator Service, (c) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid, and (d) intrastate and interstate information comparisons.

1998, c. 109, § 63.1-250.1:3; 2002, c. 747.

§ 63.2-1906. Department may disclose information to Internal Revenue Services.

Upon approval of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department may disclose to and keep the Internal Revenue Services of the Treasury of the United States advised of the names of all persons who are under legal obligation to support any dependent child or dependent children or their custodial parents and who are not doing so, to the end that the Internal Revenue Services may have available to it the names of such persons for review in connection with income tax returns and claims of dependencies made by persons filing income tax returns.

1988, c. 906, § 63.1-274.3; 2002, c. 747.

§ 63.2-1907. Child support enforcement; private contracts.

A. Pursuant to the authority granted in § 63.2-1901, child support enforcement field work administrative functions and central office payment processing functions in the Commonwealth may be performed by private entities. The Department shall supervise the administration of the child support enforcement program, let and monitor all contracts with private entities and ensure compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations. The Department may also enter into contracts with private collection agencies and other entities to effect the collection of child support arrearages. Contracts entered into pursuant to this section shall be in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations governing public entities pursuant to the Public Procurement Act (§ 2.2-4300 et seq.). Any contract to perform child support enforcement field work administrative functions and central office payment processing functions entered into by the Department shall contain a provision that the entity to whom the contract is awarded shall give employment preference to qualified persons whose employment with the Division of Child Support Enforcement is terminated as a result of the privatization of child support enforcement functions. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when hiring to fill vacant positions within the Department, preference shall be given to qualified persons who are unable to obtain employment with an entity who is awarded a contract to perform child support enforcement field work administrative functions and central office payment processing functions pursuant to this section and whose employment with the Division of Child Support Enforcement is terminated as a result of the privatization of child support enforcement functions.

B. The Board shall establish guidelines to implement the Department's responsibilities under this section. Such guidelines shall specify procedures by which child support enforcement funding mechanisms authorized by state and federal law are allocated to fund central office and privatized child support enforcement functions.

1996, c. 1054, § 63.1-249.1; 1998, cc. 494, 499; 2002, cc. 262, 747.