Child Support Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about DCSE Services

  1. Where should I send child support payments?
    If you are directed to make payments through Virginia DCSE, please make payments payable to the Treasurer of Virginia, and mail to
    P.O. Box 570, Richmond, VA 23218
    You must include your name and Social Security number on all payments.

  2. Who can apply for DCSE services?
    Custodial parents, noncustodial parents and individuals and agencies with physical custody of a child may apply.

  3. How can I collect child support?
    If you have physical custody of a child or are owed support from when you did have physical custody of a child, then you can request DCSE's assistance by completing and returning an application for services. If you do not want to open a case with DCSE, you will need to work with the court and/or a private attorney.

  4. How do I open a case with DCSE?
    If you are not receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits, you must complete and submit an application for services . If you are receiving Medicaid benefits, you will be given the option of requesting DCSE services. We also suggest that you read the publication entitled Child Support & You .

  5. Do I need to tell DCSE when I move?
    Yes! Custodial and noncustodial parents are required to notify DCSE promptly, and in writing, of any change in address, even if you are receiving your payments by direct deposit. Failure to notify DCSE of a change of address when you move can result in delays in receiving payments, refunds and important case information.

  6. How do I notify DCSE of a change in my name or address?
    You should send a signed letter to the district office that manages your case. This is to help protect the security of your personal information. Please include your DCSE case number or your Social Security number whenever you contact us.

  7. Virginia is not my state of legal residence. Where should I apply?
    While you may apply in any state, we recommend that you apply for child support services in the state where you legally reside.

  8. I live in another state. Can I get help from DCSE in Virginia?
    If you already have a child support case open in the state in which you reside, you should contact the child support agency in that state to learn if it has requested assistance from the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you do not have an active child support case, you may wish to apply for services in the state in which you reside. While you can apply directly with Virginia DCSE, you should be aware that you might be required to travel to Virginia to attend court hearings. Individuals receiving public assistance benefits from another state may not apply for DCSE services in Virginia. The child support application for services is available on this Web site. You may complete the application and return it to the district office that serves the locality in which the other party resides.

  9. I had a case with DCSE and closed it. What do I need to do to reopen it?
    You will need to complete and return an application for services.

  10. I have a case with another state, but I am moving to Virginia. What should I do?
    You should notify the other state in writing of your new address. If you decide to apply for DCSE services once you are in Virginia, you will need to complete an application for services and include the information about your case in the other state. Virginia DCSE will then notify that state that you have applied here.

  11. The other parent lives in another state. Where do I turn for help?
    While you may apply directly with that state, we recommend you apply for services in your state of legal residence. All state child support agencies cooperate to collect child support.

  12. The other parent lives in another country. What can DCSE do to help me?
    DCSE has reciprocal agreements with a number of countries and can try to establish a working relationship with other countries as needed through the Office of the Attorney General, but that process can be lengthy. We are more successful with countries that have child support laws similar to the United States.

  13. Do you have an attorney I can talk to about a question I have related to child support?
    No. DCSE attorneys act on the behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia. They do not represent the custodial or noncustodial parent or provide individuals with legal advice. Nor can any DCSE representative provide legal advice to customers. If you have questions regarding child support, please contact the appropriate DCSE office. Representatives will be able to research your concerns and provide you with an answer. Should DCSE determine a child support case requires legal action, your case may be prepared for a court hearing and referred to the judicial system. In a case DCSE refers to court, our attorneys will represent DCSE. If you want legal advice, you should consult a private attorney.

  14. If the other parent may cause me or the child physical or emotional harm if my address is disclosed, or if I have a protective order against the other parent, what should I do?
    You should notify DCSE immediately, and sign an Affidavit of Nondisclosure. This will ensure that information about your location is not released unless a court determines otherwise.

  15. I have been receiving child support directly for years, but I recently went to court and the support is now ordered to be paid through DCSE. What do I need to do?
    As of July 1998, Virginia law requires that all income withholding orders for child support direct payments to DCSE. In order for DCSE to be able to process your payments timely and accurately, it is essential that DCSE have a copy of your court order and the payroll deduction order. You may also be eligible to apply for DCSE services. Applying for DCSE services will allow DCSE to take action to collect support if payments stop, rather than just being a record-keeper. Please make sure the court has sent DCSE a copy of your orders. For additional information, call (800) 468-8894. Please review the publication Important Child Support Information.

  16. Why is interest charged and who gets the money?
    Since 1995, Virginia law has allowed interest to be charged on child support debts, just as interest is charged on other debts. If the debt is owed to the custodial parent, any interest collected is disbursed to him/her. If the debt is owed to the Commonwealth of Virginia for public assistance benefits paid, any payments on interest are retained by the Commonwealth.

  17. What fees does Virginia DCSE charge?
    DCSE charges the following fees to custodial parents:
    • $25 annual fee deducted once $500 has been collected on a case in which no Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits have been paid. This fee was federally mandated as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The $25 fee is deducted once a federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30) after $500 is collected on a case. This fee must be deducted; it cannot be prepaid. (In cases involving more than one state's child support agency, the fee is deducted by the state where the custodial parent applied for services.)
    • $25 reapplication fee when an applicant for DCSE services has requested that the case be closed within the preceding six months and then elects to re-apply before six months have elapsed. This fee must be paid by money order or certified check.
    • Genetic paternity testing costs if a custodial parent challenges the results of the paternity testing or if a court orders the custodial parent to pay for testing. This fee must be paid in advance.
    • Copying and labor costs for providing copies of certain case documents. This fee may be required in advance.
    • Fees charged by another state's child support agency for enforcement.
    • DCSE charges the following fees to noncustodial parents:
      • Attorney fees when DCSE wins in a court enforcement action (the current fee is $120 per action).
      • Genetic Paternity Testing when paternity is proven through genetic testing.
      • IRS fee when DCSE receives an intercepted federal refund (the fee varies from year to year, and is set by the IRS. For tax year 2007, the fee is $14.65.
      • Copying and labor costs for providing copies of certain case documents. This fee may be required in advance.
      • Fees charged by another state's child support agency for enforcement.

  18. Where should fee payments be mailed?
    Fee payments should be made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia and mailed to:
    P.O. Box 712, Richmond, Virginia 23218-0712
    You must include your name and Social Security number on the payment along with an explanation of what fee the payment is for, or include a copy of the Notice of Fee Payment Due.

  19. If a judge makes a decision I disagree with, what can I do?
    You may wish to obtain legal counsel. If the decision (or order) can be appealed, you must appeal to the appropriate court within the specified time period. If there was ethical misconduct or serious mental or physical disability that interfered with the judge's duties, you may wish to file a written complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission.
    P. O. Box 367, Richmond, VA 23203
    Neither DCSE, nor the governor has authority over a judge's decision.

  20. How do I contact DCSE?
    Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, by calling 1-800-468-8894. If the representative is not able to answer your question, the representative can send an electronic message to the appropriate worker for follow-up. We receive a high volume of inquiries on Monday and Tuesday, so you may want to try your call later in the week.

    Customers can also receive information about payments, arrears and certain case actions from our automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service. The IVR service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 1-800-468-8894 or by accessing the DCSE Case Information option on our Web page. Fax numbers and mailing addresses for child support district offices are also available through the voice response service and the Web page.

  21. When I was a child, the noncustodial parent did not pay the support he/she was ordered to pay. Can I collect the money that is owed?
    Child support is usually owed to the custodial parent. If a court determines that you are the payee on the order, then you would be able to pursue the collection of the past-due support.

  22. I do not think the custodial parent is using the support money for the child. What can DCSE do?
    DCSE does not investigate how child support funds are used. Virginia law does not require an accounting of how child support money is spent. If DCSE becomes aware of suspected child abuse or neglect, the information is provided to the appropriate social services agency in the locality in which the child resides. The local agency then determines what action should be taken. Individuals who are aware of child abuse or child neglect should report it to the local social services agency or call the Child Abuse Hotline (800) 552-7096.

  23. I am trying to find someone. Can DCSE help me with locating a missing person?
    DCSE can only provide locate services for cases it manages or under certain special circumstances. You may want to try searching Internet sources like telephone directories or check with organizations like the Salvation Army for assistance in finding a missing person.

  24. Does DCSE assist with the collection of spousal support / alimony?
    DCSE can only enforce the collection of spousal support when it is part of a child support order.

  25. How do I close my case with DCSE?
    Send a signed letter requesting that your case be closed or print, complete and send the Request for Case Closure form to the district office that manages your case. Please include your DCSE case number or your Social Security number whenever you contact us. Please keep in mind that if you request your case to be closed and then choose to re-open it within six (6) months, you will be required to pay a $25 reapplication fee.


  1. How does a change in physical custody of the child affect child support?
    If current child support is owed for a dependent child, DCSE works to direct the support to the individual or agency that has physical custody of the child. Past-due support is usually owed to the individual who had physical custody of the child when the support was initially due.

  2. Who should notify DCSE if a child's custody changes?
    If DCSE has a case for a child, both the custodial and noncustodial parents should notify DCSE in writing of a change in custody, and provide either a copy of a court order that shows the custody change, or school or other government records that reflect who has physical custody of the child.

  3. Can DCSE help with questions or problems about custody or visitation?
    No. DCSE cannot help with questions or problems about custody or visitation. These issues must be addressed through a private attorney or the court system. Many courts have mediation services that can be used to resolve disputes about custody or visitation.


  1. How does DCSE process payments?
    DCSE processes approximately 13,000 payments each business day. DCSE receives payments by mail and electronically. DCSE microfilms all payments it receives by mail and deposits all payments promptly. Payments are credited by the Payor's name and Social Security number. If a payment is properly identified and there is no incomplete information, then the payment is credited to the appropriate account within one business day of DCSE receiving it. If the custodial parent has direct deposit, then the payment is usually deposited into their account within two business days. If you have not chosen direct deposit, a check is mailed within two business days.

    Direct Payments are considered "gifts," and the noncustodial parent will not receive credit for direct payments.

    Direct payments made by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent for child support after 1) the establishment of an order directing payments through DCSE or 2) receipt of a Change in Payee Notice directing payments through DCSE are considered "gifts." DCSE does not give the noncustodial parent credit for direct payments after the noncustodial parent has been ordered to make child support payments through DCSE.

    If you are a custodial parent, do not accept direct payments for child support from the noncustodial parent after the noncustodial parent has been ordered to pay child support through DCSE. If you receive a payment directly, do not spend or cash the payment. Include the noncustodial parent's Social Security number or DCSE case number with every payment. Payments should be addressed to: Treasurer of Virginia, P.O. Box 570, Richmond, VA 23218.

  2. If the payments are supposed to be deducted from my wages and that hasn't started yet, what should I do?
    You are responsible for your child support payments. If they are not deducted from your wages, then you must send in the payments yourself. You also must notify the district office managing your case of where you are working. Payments should be payable to:
    Treasurer of Virginia,
    P.O. Box 570,
    Richmond, VA 23218
    Please include your name and Social Security number or DCSE case number on all payments.

  3. What happens if the check DCSE receives from an employer or noncustodial parent is returned for insufficient funds?
    The check is processed through the bank twice, and if after two times there are still insufficient funds, then DCSE takes steps to recover the funds.

  4. Why does the amount of the payment I receive change?
    There are a number of reasons why payment amounts may vary:
    • If there has been $500 collected on your case since October 1, the amount of $ 25 will be deducted as a once a year mandated fee deduction.
    • If the payments are being deducted from the noncustodial parent's wages, it is possible that his/her work hours vary. If the total support obligation cannot be paid from the noncustodial parent's wages, only a percentage of his/her wages can be deducted for the support owed. The law does not allow a person's entire wages to be withheld for support.
    • If a noncustodial parent has more than one support obligation, any payments we receive must be pro-rated among all the obligations.
    • If there are no arrears owed on a case, we can only disburse the amount of current support that is due in a given time period. For example, if a support obligation of $100 per month is due on or about the fifth of each month and no arrears are owed, then we can only disburse up to that $100 from the fifth of one month through the fourth of the next month. If, due to the noncustodial parent's pay schedule, we receive more than the $100 during that obligation period and no arrears are owed, we must wait to disburse any amount above that $100 until after the next obligation period begins on the fifth of that next month.

  5. When should I expect a payment?
    DCSE cannot guarantee that payments will be received on a consistent basis. If the payments are deducted from the noncustodial parent's wages, the employer should remit the payments to DCSE according to the noncustodial parent's pay dates. Most payments received by DCSE come through the mail, and mail times will vary.

  6. A child support payment was credited to my case several days ago and usually I would have it by now, but I haven't received it. What should I do?
    If you have direct deposit, you should first check with your bank about the deposit. If the bank does not have a record of the deposit, contact DCSE so the payment can be researched.

    If you normally receive your checks by mail, time frames for mail delivery vary, and you should allow 10 business days after the check was mailed before reporting it as missing. If you have moved and notified the post office of your new address within the previous six months, your check will be forwarded. You must also notify your district office of your new address. DCSE will not request that a stop payment be placed on a check until 10 business days have passed, unless a check has been stolen or lost.

    If you still have not received your payment after 10 business days, you should notify DCSE so the check status can be researched. If the check has not been cashed, DCSE will send you a Stop Payment Affidavit to complete with your notarized signature and to be returned to the district office. The Treasurer's Office and the bank then can determine whether a replacement check should be issued, and usually a replacement check will be issued within two to four weeks. If the check has been cashed, an investigation by the Treasurer's Office and bank must be conducted. It may become a criminal investigation, which requires more time. It may require two to 12 months or longer for such an investigation to be completed. If you are certain that a check has been stolen or lost, you should contact DCSE immediately. If you have a bank account in your name, you should also consider applying for direct deposit to avoid this type of problem.

  7. My child support check was stolen or lost. What should I do?
    You should contact DCSE at 1-800-468-8894 immediately so that appropriate action can be taken. Please also consider signing up for Direct Deposit or requesting a Debit Card to avoid this problem in the future.

  8. The noncustodial parent was notified that a refund was intercepted for child support arrears. Why haven't I received those funds?
    A noncustodial parent will usually be notified approximately 60 days before DCSE receives any funds. DCSE cannot disclose the source of such funds except to the noncustodial parent, due to privacy restrictions. While DCSE is required to apply the funds to the arrears balance when the collection is received, it is required by state law to hold certain types of special collections for 180 days (6 months) because of the possibility of another claim being filed on the funds that would require DCSE to return all or some of the collection to the source agency. Also, if such funds are received and a debt is owed to the Commonwealth of Virginia, the debt owed to the Commonwealth will be paid first. This is in compliance with federal and state requirements.

Direct Deposit

  1. How can I have my child support payments direct-deposited?
    If you have a bank account that has your name on it, you may complete an application for direct deposit. Mail or fax it, along with a voided check, pre-printed deposit slip, or bank statement that shows your account information to the Division of Finance EFT Unit, P.O. Box 586, Richmond, Virginia 23218-0586 or by fax to (804) 726-7955.

  2. How long does it take to start direct deposit?
    After your mailed or faxed direct deposit application is received, you will be sent a notice within five to 10 business days confirming the bank information you provided. The notice advises you to contact the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Unit if there is a mistake in your information within 15 days of the date of the notice. After that 15-day period passes, your payments will begin being direct-deposited.

  3. I am going to change banks or bank accounts, what should I do?
    You must complete a new application for direct deposit and mail it or fax it, along with a voided check or pre-printed deposit slip, to P.O. Box 586, Richmond, VA 23218-0586, or fax to (804) 726-7955. You will receive a new notice confirming the information within five to ten business days and you will need to allow another 15 calendar days for the direct deposits to begin in your new bank account.

  4. I want to stop my direct deposit, what should I do?
    You must mail or fax a signed request to the EFT Unit at P.O. Box 586, Richmond, VA 23218-0586, or fax to (804) 726-7955. Please be sure to include your DCSE case number, Social Security Number and current mailing address on your request. Please allow five business days for direct deposit to be stopped.


  1. Why did the arrears balance owed to me change when I have not received a payment for the amount of the change?
    There are several reasons why the arrears balance may change without a payment being disbursed. DCSE may make adjustments to accounts based on proof of payments provided by one of the parties. DCSE sometimes learns after the fact that an order has been changed and must make adjustments to the account to reflect the change. DCSE is required to apply certain special collections to the arrears balance in accordance with federal requirements, but is required by state law to hold certain special collections for 180 days (6 months) because of the possibility of another claim being filed on the funds that would require DCSE to return all or some of the collection to the source agency. DCSE cannot disclose the source of such special collections.

  2. When current child support is no longer owed, what happens to the arrears owed?
    DCSE will continue to collect the arrears that are owed and can use most of the same enforcement methods used to collect current support.

  3. How does DCSE collect arrears?
    DCSE uses many of the same methods to collect arrears that are used to collect current support. For more information, please read the publication on this Web site, entitled, Child Support & You.

  4. When is interest charged and how much is charged?
    Interest accrues monthly on unpaid balances. For orders issued in Virginia, the current interest rate is 0.5 percent per month, which equals 6 percent annually.

  5. I paid all the child support I owed, but the debt is still showing on my credit report. Why?
    DCSE sends updated balance information to the major credit reporting agencies on a monthly basis, but each agency has its own processing time for updating credit records. Credit reports will reflect that an arrearage has been paid. Reference to the debt cannot be removed unless the debt was reported in error. If it has been more than 60 days since you paid your balance in full, you may wish to request a dispute form from the credit agency.

Establishing Paternity

  1. How can DCSE assist with establishing paternity?
    If one of the parties applies for DCSE services, DCSE can take steps to establish paternity for a child. For more information, please see the Child Support & You and Facts About Establishing Paternity publications.

  2. Does having the father's name on the birth certificate establish the child's paternity?
    No, that does not establish the father as the legal parent of the child. It can mean that the father signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity. A certified copy of that acknowledgement would establish paternity in most situations.

  3. I signed a paper saying I was the father, but now I don't think I am. What can I do?
    You can consult with the court and/or a private attorney.

  4. How is paternity established?
    DCSE establishes paternity through Voluntary Acknowledgements of Paternity, genetic paternity tests or through court action. Please see the publication, Facts about Establishing Paternity for additional information.

Establishing Support Orders

  1. Where is the scale that is used in setting the amount of a child support order?
    You can review the child support guideline by accessing the external link option on this Web site and selecting the link to the Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines are part of the Code of Virginia, Section 20-108.2. Please keep in mind that many factors are involved in determining a child support obligation and unless all of the figures that are used are accurate, the amount of support determined will not be correct. The child support guidelines require all financial information to be in monthly amounts. The instructions on child support guidelines state that to convert weekly amounts to monthly, multiply the weekly amount 4.33 times; to convert bi-weekly amounts to monthly, multiply the bi-weekly amount 2.167 times; and to convert semi-monthly amounts to monthly amounts, multiply the semi-monthly amount two times; and to convert annual amounts to monthly amounts, divide the annual amount by 12. If you have a Virginia case and feel that your order should be reviewed, please refer to the Child Support & You publication on this Web site for additional information on this procedure.

  2. How does DCSE determine how much support someone should pay?
    DCSE utilizes the child support guideline scale that is part of the Code of Virginia. The guideline was developed with input from custodial and noncustodial parents, judges, attorneys, child support professionals, economists, and legislators and is reviewed every three years. The child support guideline scale takes into consideration the gross income of both parents, the number of other children being supported, the cost of medical/dental insurance and extraordinary medical/dental expenses for dependents, and childcare expenses. Other factors may be considered and are referred to as deviations. DCSE uses the guideline to establish administrative orders for support, and the courts use the guideline to establish court orders for support, both kinds of orders are legal obligations. Generally, only a court can deviate from the guideline. The guideline can be reviewed by accessing the External Link option on this DCSE website and selecting the Child Support Guidelines. The child support guideline is in Section 20.108.2 of the Code of Virginia.

  3. One parent has other children in the home; are they considered when the obligation is set?
    Only if that parent is legally responsible to support the other children. That usually means that only the support of biological and adopted children are considered in establishing or reviewing a support order.

  4. I am getting married. Is my new spouse's income considered in the child support guidelines to determine the obligation amount?
    No, only a parent's income information is included in the child support guidelines.


  1. How does DCSE collect child support?
    DCSE has numerous tools available to assist custodial parents in collecting current child support and arrearages associated with support. One of the primary tools or methods is through income withholding. DCSE can also file property liens, report child support debts to credit agencies, and suspend drivers' and other licenses, intercept income tax refunds, prepare your case for court action and petition another state for assistance when needed. While DCSE cannot guarantee its success or collections, DCSE representatives will utilize all available enforcement actions to attempt to obtain the support to which your child is entitled.

  2. What are the time frames for DCSE to take action on a case?
    Time frames vary and each case is different. One of the most important steps that DCSE must take with almost every action is to serve the noncustodial parent with advance notice of the action. This is a legal requirement and allows the noncustodial parent "due process" to contest or appeal the action. Since many people move frequently and some people deliberately try to avoid being served, this often requires a long time to accomplish.

  3. I do not know where the noncustodial parent is living. Can DCSE find him/her?
    DCSE has many automated locate sources available for its use; however, you, as the custodial parent, are one of our best resources for information about a noncustodial parent, since you may learn of addresses, assets or employment from friends or family before that information is available to DCSE through its sources. DCSE staff use locate sources available in DCSE offices. They are not able to physically search for individuals. Even with its sources and with your help, DCSE may still not be able to find a noncustodial parent. Some people are determined not to be found and may use extreme measures not to be located.

  4. When does DCSE refer a case for court action?
    DCSE has strong administrative methods to establish and enforce support orders, and usually refers cases for court action only when those administrative methods have been unsuccessful. Certain situations, such as those involving minor fathers, must be referred for court action. Generally, for the purposes of enforcing orders when administrative enforcement is unsuccessful, cases are referred for court action when support is past-due for more than 90 days and the arrears are at least $500. DCSE must provide the court with a verified address for the noncustodial parent so that individual can be served with a summons to appear in court.

  5. What happens after a noncustodial parent's debt is certified for interception of federal or state refunds and other non-wage payments?
    In order for DCSE to receive any funds from this process, the noncustodial parent must be entitled to a refund or other non-wage payment from a federal or state agency. DCSE staff cannot disclose the source of such special collections. For federal certification, the debt amount must be at least $500, unless the debt is owed to the state for public assistance benefits paid on behalf of a child. The noncustodial parent will receive a notice from the U.S. Department of Treasury stating that the funds will be sent to DCSE about 60 days before DCSE actually receives the funds. Once the funds are received, the collection amount is applied to the debt, but the funds are held, pursuant to state law, for 180 days before they are disbursed to the custodial parent to allow for other possible claims to be filed that might require DCSE to return the funds to the source. If there is a debt owed to the state for public assistance benefits paid on behalf of a child, the collection must be applied to that state debt first. For certification of debt amounts to state agencies, the child support debt amount must be equivalent to two month's current support or $25 for arrears only cases. Funds are usually received from a state agency within 30 days of the notice to the noncustodial parent.

  6. If the noncustodial parent receives Social Security benefits, can DCSE still collect support for me?
    DCSE can usually assist a custodial parent in the collection of support from social security disability benefits, but Supplemental Security Income benefits cannot be attached for the payment of child support. Some courts may choose not to enter an order if a noncustodial parent receives Social Security benefits. Also, some courts may credit a lump sum paid to the dependents by the Social Security Administration toward the noncustodial parent's arrearage.

  7. If the noncustodial parent is receiving TANF benefits, can DCSE still collect support for me?
    No. TANF benefits are considered welfare for the benefit of minor children and DCSE cannot collect support monies from these welfare benefits.

Reviews of Order Amounts

  1. What happens when a child support order is reviewed?
    The order amount may increase or decrease or there may be no change to the order.

  2. If more than one state is involved, where should I ask for a review?
    There are a number of factors that determine where a review is actually conducted. If you have a case managed by DCSE or another state's child support agency, you should request a review in writing to the child support agency that you normally contact for assistance. If you do not have a case with DCSE, you will need to consult with the court or a private attorney.

  3. My case is for the collection of arrears only. Can my order be reviewed?
    No, DCSE does not review orders if current support is no longer owed. However, it may be possible for DCSE to petition the court to increase the payment amount on the arrears balance.

  4. How often can my order be reviewed?
    Generally, orders can be reviewed every three years. Each state may have requirements for conducting reviews at other times. In Virginia, DCSE considers requests for reviews before 36 months have passed only if there is a significant change in circumstances, which means that an additional child needs to be considered or that the income, child care, or health-care related costs have increased or decreased at least 25 percent for one of the parties since the last order was established.

  5. How do I request a review?
    To request a review, you should send in a signed request for a review to the district office that manages your case, briefly explaining the change in circumstances or you may print, complete, and return the Request for Review and Adjustment form to the district office that manages your case. A list of District Office addresses is available on this Web site.

    If you reside outside of Virginia and have a case managed by a child support agency in another state, you should submit your review request to that child support agency.

    After a review request is received, financial statements are sent to the custodial and noncustodial parents to complete and return. Then a determination is made as to whether the review should be conducted and you will be notified of that determination.

  6. If I do not have a case with DCSE, how do I get a review?
    You will need to consult with the court and/or a private attorney.

  7. I just lost my job and can't afford to pay the support I'm ordered to. What can I do?
    You remain financially responsible for your child or children. It is expected you will soon return to gainful employment. An order for support is a legal obligation and failure to comply with such an order can have negative consequences for you. For your Virginia DCSE case, mail your check or money order to the Treasurer of Virginia, P.O. Box 570, Richmond, VA 23218. Be sure to include your Social Security number on any payments. Notify your employer of your child support obligation and notify your district office as soon as you obtain new employment. You must continue to make support payments until an income withholding is in place. If you anticipate a significant period of unemployment, you may wish to submit a written request that DCSE conduct a review of your obligation amount or petition the appropriate court for a review and possible modification of the order. A review may result in an increase, decrease or no change to your order amount.

When Support Stops

  1. What should I do if I stop receiving support?
    If you have information that the noncustodial parent has changed jobs, you should notify the district office that manages your case. Since mail times and other circumstances can vary, DCSE requests that you allow 10 business days after you would normally receive a payment to contact us regarding the lack of payments. DCSE can then determine what the next enforcement action should be. DCSE processes payments in compliance with federal and state requirements. Please remember that DCSE cannot disburse more funds than what is owed for a time period when there are no arrears owed.

  2. When does support stop being owed? My child will turn 18 soon.
    You will need to refer to your order for support. Virginia DCSE will enforce the existing order for current support until the order stipulates the child emancipates.

    If your support order is for more than one child, the order is not necessarily automatically reduced when one child emancipates. While Virginia laws were changed in 1992 to stipulate that children are entitled to support until the age of 19 or graduation from high school, whichever occurs first, this law does not take precedence over prior orders (the new law was not retroactive). Also, other states may have different laws.

    Your order may need to be modified in order to collect current support for a child after he/she is 18 years old. If you think the order needs to be modified to continue support beyond your child's 18th birthday because he/she will still be a full-time high school student, and you have a case with DCSE, you will need to contact the District Office that manages your case at least six months prior to your child's 18th birthday.

    If you do not have a case with DCSE, you will need to contact the court and/or a private attorney.

  3. Does support stop if parental rights are terminated or a child is adopted?
    The decision on the payment of current support and arrears must be made by the court.

  4. What happens if the noncustodial parent files bankruptcy?
    The filing of bankruptcy does not mean that child support will not be owed. While DCSE may have to limit its collection efforts to collecting the current support obligation due for a period of time, the noncustodial parent will still be expected to pay any arrears once the bankruptcy has been discharged. Child support is not a debt that can be discharged by bankruptcy.


  1. Can DCSE put noncustodial parents in jail if they don't pay?
    No. DCSE representatives may petition the court and DCSE attorneys may request the respondent be given jail time, but it is a judge's decision whether to order a jail sentence. A noncustodial parent who is found to be in civil contempt for failure to pay child support can be sentenced to up to 12 months incarceration. Incarceration is usually a last resort in child support cases, but for some individuals, it is necessary.

  2. What happens to the support if the noncustodial parent is in jail?
    Unless the noncustodial parent is participating in a work-release program or has other attachable assets, DCSE has no way to collect support from an incarcerated noncustodial parent. The support continues to be owed and interest may accrue on the unpaid support. It may be possible to establish paternity while an alleged father is incarcerated.

  3. When is a noncustodial parent sent to jail?
    Only a judge can order incarceration. Judges in Virginia can sentence noncustodial parents to up to 12 months in jail as a result of a civil show cause hearing. A judge determines when the noncustodial parent is released from jail also. Since most noncustodial parents cannot pay support when incarcerated, judges usually only order incarceration after other efforts have not obtained positive results.

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