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Forte v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., Div. of Child Support Enforcement

Court of Appeals of Virginia

June 9, 2015

STEVEN LAMONT FORTE
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, DIVISION OF CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT, ex rel. COURTNEY T. NEWSOME

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF HAMPTON. Bonnie L. Jones, Judge.

Charles E. Haden for appellant.

T. Ann Johns, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General; Beth J. Edwards, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Victoria W. Dullaghan, Regional Senior Assistant Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: Judges McCullough, Russell and Senior Judge Frank.

OPINION

Page 304

[65 Va.App. 4] STEPHEN R. McCULLOUGH, JUDGE

Steven Lamont Forte, the father and appellant in this case, challenges the circuit court's dismissal of his appeal for failure to post a bond. He also argues that the Division of Child Support Enforcement, DCSE, should not have been allowed to participate in the case. We affirm the judgment of the circuit court for the reasons noted below.

BACKGROUND

On December 5, 2011, the Hampton Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court ordered Forte to pay $1,237 per month in child support to Courtney T. Newsome. The same order also sets forth arrearages totaling $18,873.50. The payments were to begin on January 1, 2012. When combined with a required $200 monthly payment toward arrearages, appellant was ordered to pay $1,437 per month.

Approximately two years later, on December 5, 2013, appellant filed a motion to amend

Page 305

his child support obligation on the basis of a reduction in his income. On February 3, 2014, the juvenile court denied the motion, finding that appellant had not shown a change in circumstances. The court also calculated the support arrearages at $24,328.91. Forte sought to appeal the juvenile court's denial of his motion, and the court ordered him to post an appeal bond for the arrearage amount. He objected to the bond, arguing that " an appeal from a denial of a motion to amend future support payments," such as his appeal, did not require a bond.

The circuit court held that (1) a juvenile court's order cannot be separated, by issue, for appeal; (2) appellant could [65 Va.App. 5] not appeal the denial of his motion to amend his child support obligation without also appealing the order setting an arrearage; and (3) an appeal bond was necessary and jurisdictional. The circuit court held that, without the necessary appeal bond, it lacked jurisdiction and remanded the case to juvenile court. Appellant filed a lengthy statement of objections. He also argued that DCSE was not ...


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