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Is Nonsupport of a Child or Spouse Really a Crime?

Spousal support is a subject often hotly debated in contested divorces. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, each spouse is presumed to have an obligation to provide “support” to the other. If you have questions regarding the unique facts of your situation or case, the best step for more detailed information is your local Virginia Beach Family Lawyer.

It is a crime to fail to provide support, when the situation involves “desertion” or “willful failure” to provide support, and the person who would have received the support is in circumstances deemed “necessitous.” (See Section 20.61). This crime can be seriously punished – although it is technically a misdemeanor, the penalty can include a year’s confinement and/or a $500 fine. Thus, nonsupport can be a very serious charge. Your local Virginia Beach Attorney may be willing to offer you a consultation to discuss your case.

What if you believe you do not owe support?  Indeed, there are various defense to the crime described above, 20.61. One form of nonsupport that we have not mentioned thus far, is its relation to children. Parents owe a duty of support to their kids. But that parent may be excused if the child is removed from the parent. However, keep in mind that his defense won’t hold up if the reason the child was removed due to the nonsupport. (See Butler v. Com, 132, Va. 609 (1922)). The defense of “inability” may also be raised as an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is a defense where the accused essentially is saying, “yes I may have done X or Y, but I had a valid reason.” (See Painter v. Com, 140 Va. 459 (1924)). These two defenses also relate to spousal support. Virginia statutes can be confusing and intertwined in complex ways. For the best evaluation, call your local Virginia Beach Family Lawyer today.