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Understanding the child support system

Newly divorced parents in Virginia may be confused about the different types of child support cases that exist. While some exes handle child support privately by paying it directly to the custodial parent, others pay child support through a state system. The type of child support case determines how the payment is handled; the most common types are called IV-D, IV-A, IV-E and non-IV-D.

The term "IV" comes from Title IV of the 1975 Social Security Act, which governs grant monies to states that are used to provide social services and financial aid to needy families and children. IV-D cases are those in which the Office of Child Support Involvement is involved at the request of the custodial parent; the OCSE may have established paternity, located the noncustodial parent or enforced a child support order that had been unpaid. On the other hand, IV-A cases are automatically referred to the OCSE because the custodial parent receives some form of public assistance. IV-E cases, which are also automatically referred to the OCSE, come into play when foster parents are involved.

However, non-IV-D cases make up the majority of post-divorce child support issues. In these cases, child support is established privately and maintained through direct payments from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. This kind of case can become an IV-D case if the noncustodial parent fails to adhere to the terms of the agreement or pay outstanding child support.

Understanding the child support system can be important for both parents. These designations help the government track the use of child support as well as provide a basis for enforcement of unpaid support orders. A family law attorney can work with a client to establish a child support order, modify an existing order or seek enforcement of unpaid support.

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