Child Support & Contempt Of Court

If there is an Order of Child Support and certain "procedural requirements" have been satisfied and you do not pay your child support you may be held in contempt of court.

Very briefly there must be a valid existing order, there must be a determination of a default which was willful and proper notice of the order and the violation must have been provided.

A contempt finding and incarceration can only be made by the Court that issued the order of support or the court that has "adopted" the order of support. So if you are divorced and the Supreme Court Order directs child support the Family Court can "enforce" the order but cannot hold you in contempt until they have adopted the Supreme Court Order and you violate it again.

Generally, the mere fact of non-payment establishes the violation. The burden then shifts to the person with the arrears to prove that it was not willful. An example might be the loss of employment through no fault of the paying party, medical illness, lack of notice of the order, failure of the Petition to contain the proper statutory warnings. Resolution can include payment of the full amount due or a schedule for partial payments.

Incarceration is a last remedy when there are no other likely means to obtain payment. If a person is employed a payroll garnishment may avoid incarceration. If there are bank accounts with assets, a seizure of the monies or interception of tax refunds may avoid incarceration.

Contempt of Court is serious and when faced with such a situation an experienced matrimonial should be retained.

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