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Richmond Virginia Family Law Blog

Head of Child Support Enforcement seeks further automation

As with nearly every state, most child support payments in Virginia are made through a payroll deduction. A form of garnishment, money for a person's child support obligation is generally taken through their paycheck. The Virginia Department of Social Services then forwards the payment to the child support recipient, less a small administrative fee.

Virginia, like other states, will be seeking to make the process more efficient by relying more on electronic transfer of funds. The method is faster and expensive and doesn't require the processing of endless paper checks. This means that employers must be linked into the department to make the electronic transfer.

Uncovering income and assets for child support.

Though child support is considered a priority debt and is often subject to a wage withholding order, some are more than others in collecting money. Those who work 'off the books", those who do not report income and those who claim not to be employed can make life more difficult for a child support recipient. Those in Richmond, Virginia should know the process may be difficult, but not impossible.

With a wage earner, the process is simpler. The wage earner provides W-2 forms and tax returns; the amount to be paid is based off those earnings, and can be collected through a garnishment or wage order.

What can and cannot be discharged in bankruptcy

Mortgage, auto loan and credit card debts are among those that Virginia residents and others may be entitled to discharge in bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, assets are liquidated with the money used to repay creditors. It is important to note that not all assets are liquidated as individuals are allowed to keep whatever they need to get to work or otherwise earn a living.

Those who have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past eight years may be required to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This may also be true if an individual makes too much money to qualify for a liquidation bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 case, debts are reorganized and paid over a period of time. Any balances remaining at the end of the repayment period can usually be discharged. There are some debts that cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 proceeding.

More women paying alimony, stigma fading around prenups

More women in Virginia and across the country are paying child support and alimony, according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The AAML study found that 45 percent of lawyers saw an increase in the number of women being ordered to pay spousal support in the past three years. For the same time period, 54 percent of lawyers said they saw a rise in the number of mothers making child support payments.

Traditionally, husbands and fathers have been more likely to pay alimony and child support than wives and mothers. According to the president of the AAML, the woman would typically receive alimony after a divorce. However, women are now more likely to work in higher-paid positions. Pew Research has reported that women are the primary financial earners in four of 10 families in the U.S.

Store-branded credit cards reach 7-year high delinquency rate

According to a recent study, the delinquency rate on store-branded credit cards is spiking. The study indicates that the delinquency rate consumers in Virginia and throughout the country are facing is currently at a seven-year high. This could be bad news for consumers as it might portend an increase in household debt.

The study, compiled by the credit bureau Equifax, shows that 4.65 percent of all store-branded credit cards are at least 60 days past due as of March 2018. This number increased from 4.08 percent from March 2017 according to the same study. The current rate is the highest delinquency rate on these cards since 2011.

Remarriage and child support

Divorced parents in Virginia who get remarried should be aware of how a new marriage may impact the child support they are receiving or have to pay. Depending on the situation, there are certain legal actions that may be necessary to take.

Child support is a legal obligation of the birth parents. If a custodial parent who receives child support remarries, they will probably not experience a reduction in payments.

What to know about child support in America

There is a perception among many in Virginia and throughout the country that custodial parents receive too much support. However, this isn't necessarily the case. According to the January 2016 version of the Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support report, there are 13.4 million single custodial parents. Of those individuals, 48.7 percent have a child support agreement with the child's other parent.

About 89.8 percent of those agreements are formal and legally binding. Individuals who receive child support get less than $500 per month on average. Over the course of a year, they will receive $5,774, and there was a total of $32.9 billion in child support owed in 2013. However, those who were due child support payments only received about $3,950 per year, which is 68.5 percent of the actual average amount owed by noncustodial parents.

Researchers identify one factor that can lead to divorce

Marriages in which both people work and make similar incomes are more common than they were in the past, but there are still many couples who start their marriages with a more traditional arrangement in which the husband earns most of the money. However, Virginia couples who opt for a less traditional model might end up with a more stable marriage. Researchers in Sweden found that marriages that started out with the husband as breadwinner and transitioned to the wife making as much or more money than her husband were more likely to end in divorce than marriages that began on equal footing.

This may happen for several reasons. Often, women have put off their own careers while they relocate for their husband's job and take care of the home and children. Once they begin working and earning more money, their husbands may take the opportunity to ease off on their own work hours, but they do not pick up the child care and household tasks that the woman was doing. This can lead to resentment.

The impact of the child support system on parents

Noncustodial parents in Virginia can face negative consequences when they fail to pay child support on time. For instance, they could experience financial problems, strained relationships with family members and the possibility of going to jail. In many cases, those who owe child support are already struggling financially. According to a report from the Urban Institute, 70 percent of parents who have outstanding support balances either report no income or make less than $10,000 a year.

When a parent fails to keep up with child support obligations, it could result in a criminal record or loss of a drivers license. Losing a job due to a criminal record makes it harder to provide financially for a child while losing a drivers license can make it harder to get to work or see a child. Ultimately, it can be the child who suffers the most as he or she is unable to have a relationship with the parent.

How states rank when it comes to using credit cards

Virginia residents had an average of $7,161 in credit card debt in 2017. This was according to a report from Experian that looked at how Americans used their credit cards. The national average was $6,354 person, and Alaska had the highest average balance at $8,515. While many people use credit cards to obtain perks and rewards, some believe that it isn't worth doing so. This is because some people keep a balance on their cards each month.

The report found that 43 percent of Americans did this, and it cost about $1,000 per month on average to pay the interest on those balances. Those who study this matter say that it is a good idea to keep debt to a minimum to avoid paying interest charges. Furthermore, having too high of a credit utilization rate could negatively impact a person's credit score. The credit utilization rates compares how much credit a person has versus how much has been used.

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