Work-Oriented Child Support Program Spreads to More Virginia Courts

Law Firm Newswire



Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 21, 2014 – A Virginia program that puts noncustodial parents to work, rather than in jail, for nonpayment is showing results.

The Intensive Case Monitoring Program (ICMP) channels noncustodial parents who have shirked their child support obligations into careers, not incarceration. Recently, the program has expanded to more jurisdictions in Virginia — and as the ICMP has ramped up its presence through the commonwealth, so too, has it increased the amount of money Virginia has collected for child support.

The ICMP operates under the auspices of the Division of Child Support Enforcement. It was established as a pilot program by the Virginia General Assembly in 2008. Since launching at a handful of courthouses, it is now employed as an alternative to imprisonment for noncustodial parents who skip out on child support at 31 courthouses in the commonwealth.

Instead of sending parents to prison for failure to pay child support, the court orders eligible parents to enter the program. A case manager and community partners help the parent find employment, housing, education and other services that have been found to encourage parents to meet their child support obligations. 

The lives of many parents enrolling in the ICMP have been on a downward spiral spurred by unemployment, homelessness and poverty.

“There is a difference between a deadbeat parent and a dead-broke parent,” said Lisa McDevitt, a prominent family law attorney based in Fairfax, Virginia. “At least in the case of the latter, an opportunity to better their lives helps them and improves the chances they will come through with their child support obligations.”

The ICMP’s success can been seen through the record of its graduates. Through February 2012, the 1,075 Virginians who had been enrolled in the program had paid more than $3.3 million in child support. By July 2014, Virginia courts had ordered 2,736 parents into the program. More than 1,000 have already graduated, resulting in almost $11 million collected through the ICMP. 

Put another way, the average monthly payment per graduate is $75 pre-enrollment, but $185 post-graduation. Graduates’ average monthly obligation is $216.

“The timing of the ICMP was excellent, coming on the heels of the Great Recession. The pressure of child support obligations was amplified for many by the loss of a job,” McDevitt said. “It stands to reason that a program that helps parents get back on their feet financially will help the children who need their support.”

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