Bad News For Deadbeat Dads: Virginia’s Coming For You

by Kerry Dougherty

One of the first things Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares did after arriving in Richmond was meet with various departments in the AG’s office.

“I asked, ‘Do you have all of the tools to do your job with excellence?” Miyares recalled Wednesday morning on the “Kerry and Mike” morning radio show on WNIS.

The new attorney general was stunned by some of the answers.

Especially the responses from the lawyers in the Child Support Division. Attorneys there told him they wanted to vigorously prosecute deadbeat parents — read, dads — but that blanket dismissals of cases had taken place last year in the name of “fairness and equity.”

Looks like more misplaced compassion by those who brought us the parole board scandal. Seems Virginia paid a high price for the squishy bleeding hearts that ran state government during the Ralph Northam/Mark Herring years.

“There was no fairness for the mothers,” said Miyares pointedly.

That’s an understatement.

In fact, the new AG found 1,108 cases of deadbeats that had been shelved, despite their failure to pay court-ordered child support.

Is there a lower form of humanity than a parent who refuses to support his kids?

The office of the attorney general has about 40 lawyers around the commonwealth who act as legal counsel for the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Virginia Department of Social Services.

According to the AG’s office, these lawyers appear “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 duty of the Office of the Attorney General is to enforce child support obligations in an efficient and timely manner.”

Unfortunately, timeliness went by the wayside during the pandemic.

The mothers that the office of the attorney general sees tend to be “desperate,” Miyares said. Many waited months for hearings that were postponed due to court closures. Then, when the courts reopened, more than a thousand of these cases were being dismissed.

In a statement that was widely ignored by the press this winter, Miyares said:

“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,”

“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.”

There is no sane reason for Virginia to let deadbeat dads escape their child-support obligations. Then again, there was no sane reason for the parole board to let cop killers and capital murderers out of prison. But those were the stump-headed policies of the soft-on-crime Northam administration.

Fairness and equity, you know.

“We’re going back to prosecuting deadbeat dads,” declared Miyares on Wednesday. “It’s a new day in Virginia.”

Excellent news for single mothers and the kids who depend on them.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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7 responses to “Bad News For Deadbeat Dads: Virginia’s Coming For You”

  1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I know that it goes against Kerry’s nature to try to provide some perspective, but it would be useful if there were some additional context, such as how many show cause orders were pursued and support payments ordered; how many of those 1,100 cases that were dismissed included a parent who had been laid off or otherwise lost his job; and what was the average monthly payment that was dismissed.

    1. CJBova Avatar

      State agency annual reports generally take 18 months to two years to be released. The division of Child Support infographic does not show how many hearings or show cause orders there were in 2020.

      AG Miyares noted “In 2021, attorneys for the section appeared at approximately 77,000 hearings. They enforced existing orders in juvenile courts, primarily through show cause orders for failure to pay child support, and collected almost $9.5 million in lump sum payments.” But we can’t calculate how many cases that represents He pointed out that it was judges and legislators who brought the issue of blanket dismissals to him. If the dismissals were justified, why would judges be concerned?

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        There is another nuance that has me confused. Kerry points to 1,108 cases being “shelved”. Miyares complains of the Division requesting hundreds of “dismissals”. How many of those dismissal requests were granted? And what does “shelved” mean? “Shelved” implies no action yet taken. Once a case is dismissed, can it be considered to be shelved? Perhaps Kerry was at one time a good reporter, but, if so, she seems to have forgotten those skills. Instead, she neglects to follow up on details, because she has an agenda and those details might interfere.

        1. walter smith Avatar
          walter smith

          Seems a bit unfair to say shoddy reporting when you think accusations of political influence over Fairfax police needed more evidence.
          I am a lawyer but couldn’t tell you all the ins and outs of this area of law. In any event, there seems to be a large number of cases and a large number of people who could use the money. Do you hate single mothers? (sorry, just playing the game usually played against conservatives)
          As it happens, a friend at church was commiserating about his problem child, who had been arrested in NC and NC ran a search and found warrants in VA for child support. But he wasn’t extradited because VA had quit extraditing for child support.
          I don’t know the answer. That’s one story. But would it be unfair to imagine that the cuckolded Northam and Resistance AG Herring (with the illegal vax mandate opinion and voting opinions…not political! Say it over and over) decided to quit extraditing over support warrants because the warrants were disproportionately affecting blacks?
          Let’s get some stats for that. What if VA has 2000 support warrants and 1200 were for black fathers? Is that racism? Or does it reflect higher levels of illegitimacy? (I know it hurts to use that word, but truth is truth)
          And wouldn’t the mothers generally be black? And the children? So if this is a real policy, isn’t it a stupid policy, hurting people who need help. particularly the child?

          1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
            Dick Hall-Sizemore

            You ask some good questions. I just think more information is needed before one starts throwing accusations around.

          2. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Fair enough. Putting together what I can from my anecdote this morning and the quotes Kerry has, for some reason there is a gap, which sounds like a decision was made to quit obtaining judgments or warrants or both, and the bad consequences aren’t that hard to see. I can see looking at both the mother and father in out-of-wedlock situations and saying a pox on both your houses…but the kid(s)?
            This is probably worth pursuing to nail down the situation (how you enforce and what are the numbers and why there was a pause and have opportunities been lost or is it all deferred, but with a backlog that will take a long time to clear)

  2. Elizabeth Derks Avatar
    Elizabeth Derks

    This is so untrue. My husband and have watched his Ex not pay child support for four years, only show up to court 3 times out of 11, have 2 bench warrants produced and still nothing has been done. She is over 11,000 behind and still works, drives, and lives her life with no consequences. Virginia does NOTHING to help fathers who have sole custody simply because they are Men. Virginia is an extremely bias state. It breaks my heart watching him every day struggle to be the best dad he can with the Virginia courts continue to mock him every hearing. Virginia courts are a joke.

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