A Virginia child support appeal demonstrates how supposedly simple and straightforward species of cases can become procedural wind-knots. Not to be outdone, the Court of Appeals demonstrates the effectiveness of procedural rules when it comes to resolving such cases.
In an unpublished opinion, the Virginia Court of Appeals summarily affirmed a decision by the Prince William County Circuit Court denying a father’s effort to defeat Virginia child support orders entered against him by Virginia’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) for back child support.
The case’s procedural background is somewhat convoluted for a Virginia child support case. This blog entry is, in part, merely an effort to straighten it all out in one place for purposes of my own analysis. So here it is in all its glory:
Don’t feel bad if you had to read through this a few times to put it all together. Trust me when I say that it is even more difficult to follow the summary in the Court of Appeal’s opinion, which you can read for yourself by following the link at the end of this entry. This is atypical for a Virginia child support appeal.
The Virginia Court of Appeals (VaCtApp) summarily affirmed the Circuit Court’s dismissal of the father’s motions. Once again demonstrating the power of court procedural rules when it comes to cutting through the chafe. Here are the main takeaway points from the court’s unpublished opinion:
VaCtApp found that the father had ample opportunity to present his jurisdictional challenges to the April 3, 2009 and September 8, 2009 orders when he was afforded a trial de novo in his appeals to the Circuit Court. He failed to file a timely appeal from the Circuit Court orders entered on November 17, 2009 and May 4, 2010 thus missing his opportunity yet again. Although an order entered by a court that lacks proper jurisdiction is void and subject to collateral attack at any time, the father failed to establish that such was the case in this instance.
The father argued that the Circuit “failed to rule” on certain issues. In its own way, the VaCtApp explained that, for all intents and purposes, there is no such thing as an implied ruling or ruling by omission. If a ruling cannot be found in an order or otherwise on the record then there is no ruling. If there is no ruling then it is the father’s fault for failing to obtain it and not an error on the part of the Circuit Court for failing to rule.
Finally, the father set forth arguments alleging fraud by DCSE. However, father failed to provide any legal authorities or principles to support his argument. The VaCtApp does not consider “unsupported assertions of error” so the father’s arguments in this regard were denied without consideration.
In summary, even a Virginia child support proceeding can quickly become quite treacherous to the unwary.
The complete text of the unpublished opinion can be found here for your reading pleasure.