Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
Jason S. Miyares
202 North 9th Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
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Office of the Attorney General Discovers 1,000 Blanket Dismissals of Failure to Pay Child Support Cases
RICHMOND, VA – The Office of the Attorney General today announced the discovery of about 1,000 blanket dismissals of failure to pay child support cases since October 2021, leaving children and their custodial parents without needed financial support.
"Since taking office, I learned that the Division of Child Support Enforcement was requesting the dismissal of hundreds of child support show cause actions filed against parents who were not making their court-ordered payments, even in cases where the pattern of nonpayment was egregious,” said Attorney General Jason Miyares. "Judges and legislators rightly expressed concern to my office. The cases brought to my attention were overwhelmingly absentee parents trying to run from their financial responsibilities.”
"Having investigated the matter, I have instructed our attorneys that we will no longer request the dismissal of petitions against parents who are not paying child support, absent special circumstances. Children should never have to go without because the government is giving their parent a pass from responsibility. Parents subject to court orders will not be permitted to hide from their financial obligations to Virginia's families,” said Attorney General Miyares.
Discretion always lies with the Judge regarding special circumstances for individual child support cases. It is the Office of the Attorney General's job to ensure that hearings are held, and to provide legal support to the client. The duty of the Office of the Attorney General is to enforce child support obligations in an efficient and timely manner.
The Office of the Attorney General, in coordination with the Governor, the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, the Department of Social Services, and the Division of Child Support Enforcement, are releasing this information to the public because of the concern expressed by Judges and legislators, and because of the impact this former practice had on Virginia parents and their children.
- The Child Support Section of the Office of the Attorney General represents the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Virginia Department of Social Services by appearing in both state and federal courts to determine paternity and to establish, modify, and enforce child support obligations, by providing legal advice and program guidance, and by conducting training for agency staff.
- The Division of Child Support Enforcement is a division of the Department of Social Services, which reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources.
- There are approximately 40 attorneys in the Attorney General's Child Support Section who represent the Division of Child Support Enforcement in juvenile and circuit courts across the Commonwealth. They are located across the state to represent the Division of Child Support Enforcement offices from Abingdon to Fairfax to Norfolk.
- In 2021, attorneys for the section appeared at approximately 77,000 child support hearings. They enforced existing orders in juvenile courts, primarily through show causes for failure to pay child support, and collected almost $9.5 million in lump sum payments.
- The Attorney General provides and supervises legal services to the Division of Child Support Enforcement in child support cases to establish, obligate, enforce, and collect child support. Section 63.2-1950.
- Statutory authority for the Division of Child Support Enforcement is found in Title 63.2, Chapter 19, beginning with Section 63.2-1900.