In Virginia, paternity and child support can be pursued in 2 ways:
- You can open a case through the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). In order to open a case, you need to obtain an application at the local office, 903 Enterprise Parkway, Suite 110, Hampton, VA 23666. PH# (800) 468-8894 or at the Clerk's office.
- You can file a petition at the Court Service Unit Office located at 300 Ballard Street, 2nd Floor, Yorktown, VA. PH# (757) 890-3480.
VOLUNTARILY ADMITTING PATERNITY
If a man has admitted to fathering a child, he may be named as the father on the child's birth certificate. Or, he may have signed a statement at the hospital when the child was born acknowledging that he is the child's father.
If his name is not on the birth certificate and he has not signed any statements, then he can still voluntarily acknowledge paternity by:
a. completing an acknowledgment of paternity with DCSE;
b. acknowledging under oath (in open Court) that he is the father of the child.
RESUMPTION OF PATERNITY
There are certain situations in which the law presumes that someone is the father of the child. For example, when a child is born to a married couple, the law presumes that the husband is the father of the minor child. Likewise, once a man signs a written paternity statement under Oath, the law presumes he is the father. A conclusive presumption also arises when the parties undergo genetic testing (DNA tests) and the tests show a probability of paternity of 98% or higher. Paternity can also be accomplished by legally adopting a child.
Once paternity is established, both the mother and father have rights and responsibilities. Among their responsibilities, they may be obligated to provide financial support and health care coverage for the child.
Steps to Establish Paternity and Child Support
Once a petition has been filed with the Clerk's Office and a hearing date set, the parties will be served with a copy of a summons, the petition and income information sheet, which must be completed and brought on Court day.
On the hearing date, the parties will meet with a DCSE representative to complete the support guidelines. This hearing is scheduled for 10 minutes. The parties must notify the Court in advance if they feel the case will take longer than 10 minutes.
If paternity has not already been established, the respondent needs to tell the Court whether he acknowledges paternity or whether he wishes to have paternity testing.
If the parties have a case with DCSE, that office (DCSE) will initially pay for the paternity test. If he is excluded, he will not have to pay for the test. However, if the man is found to be the father, he will be required to reimburse DCSE (approximate costs $39.50 per person, $118.50 total). A typical test trio consist of the alleged father, mother, and child.
Parties who do not have cases through DCSE can be required to undergo testing that is arranged by the Court. Approximate costs $70.00 per person, $210.00 total. The Court MAY require the petitioner to pay the Court for the costs of the test.
Once paternity is established, the Court will send a copy of the paternity order to the Bureau of Vital Records.
Once an order of support is entered, the Court can order that payments be made directly to DCSE or by wage withholding through DCSE. The Court can also require health care coverage for the minor child.
Definition of Income - Income is defined in the Code of Virginia as income from all sources and shall include, but not be limited to income from salaries, wages, commissions, royalties, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker's compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, veterans benefits, spousal support, rental income, gifts, prizes or awards.
After the Support Order is issued
You may have to go back to Court if one of two things occurs:
A motion to amend is filed. This would be filed for some type of modification of the current order (increase, decrease, change in insurance, etc). The person who is filing the motion will have the responsibility to prove to the Court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the Order.
One party is not complying with the order (support not being paid, insurance not in effect, etc.). In such case, the person alleged to not be complying would be required to show cause why he/she should not be found in contempt of Court.
If payments are being made through the DCSE, either party may contact their office to file motions or motions for show cause on their behalf. If the payments are direct pay, the motions would be filed with the Clerk's Office.
* CHECK YOUR CHILD SUPPORT CASE ONLINE