Bill Text: VA HB1585 | 2011 | Regular Session | Comm Sub
Bill Title: Child support; court shall make a determination and enter an order containing such determination. [Track Bill]
Status: 2011-02-14 - Senate: Passed by indefinitely in Courts of Justice (12-Y 0-N) [HB1585 Detail]
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That § 16.1-278.15 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
§ 16.1-278.15. Custody or visitation, child or spousal support generally.
A. In cases involving the custody, visitation or support of a child pursuant to subdivision A 3 of § 16.1-241, the court may make any order of disposition to protect the welfare of the child and family as may be made by the circuit court. The parties to any petition where a child whose custody, visitation, or support is contested shall show proof that they have attended within the 12 months prior to their court appearance or that they shall attend within 45 days thereafter an educational seminar or other like program conducted by a qualified person or organization approved by the court. The court may require the parties to attend such seminar or program in uncontested cases only if the court finds good cause. The seminar or other program shall be a minimum of four hours in length and shall address the effects of separation or divorce on children, parenting responsibilities, options for conflict resolution and financial responsibilities. Once a party has completed one educational seminar or other like program, the required completion of additional programs shall be at the court's discretion. Parties under this section shall include natural or adoptive parents of the child, or any person with a legitimate interest as defined in § 20-124.1. The fee charged a party for participation in such program shall be based on the party's ability to pay; however, no fee in excess of $50 may be charged. Whenever possible, before participating in mediation or alternative dispute resolution to address custody, visitation or support, each party shall have attended the educational seminar or other like program. The court may grant an exemption from attendance of such program for good cause shown or if there is no program reasonably available. Other than statements or admissions by a party admitting criminal activity or child abuse or neglect, no statement or admission by a party in such seminar or program shall be admissible into evidence in any subsequent proceeding. If support is ordered for a child, the order shall also provide that support will continue to be paid for a child over the age of 18 who is (i) a full-time high school student, (ii) not self-supporting, and (iii) living in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support, until the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first. The court may also order the continuation of support for any child over the age of 18 who is (a) severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, (b) unable to live independently and support himself, and (c) resides in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support.
B. In any case involving the custody or visitation of a child, the court may award custody upon petition to any party with a legitimate interest therein, including, but not limited to, grandparents, stepparents, former stepparents, blood relatives and family members. The term "legitimate interest" shall be broadly construed to accommodate the best interest of the child. The authority of the juvenile court to consider a petition involving the custody of a child shall not be proscribed or limited where the custody of the child has previously been awarded to a local board of social services.
C. A court shall make a determination of child support and enter an order containing such determination, provided, however, that the court has sufficient evidence to enter the order, at the initial court date on any initial petition for support if the petitioner demonstrates that (i) he has physical custody of the child for whom support is being sought and (ii) he has personally served the respondent with the initial petition seeking child support unless the respondent appears in person on the initial court date. If the court makes a written finding that continuation of the matter is proper, such order shall be entered as a pendente lite order. However, if the respondent contests paternity and the court cannot lawfully establish paternity at the initial hearing, the case shall be continued without the entry of a pendente lite support order.
D. In any determination of support obligation under this section, the support obligation as it becomes due and unpaid creates a judgment by operation of law. Such judgment becomes a lien against real estate only when docketed in the county or city where such real estate is located. Nothing herein shall be construed to alter or amend the process of attachment of any lien on personal property.