My Ex Won't Pay Child Support!

Once child support is established by the court, it is then a court ordered obligation with all that that entails.  This means that the child support obligor can be punished by the court with contempt for failing to abide by the terms of the court order.  There are three rules for payment of child support:

1. Pay the amount the court orders.
2. Pay when the court orders.
3. Pay how the court orders (usually by wage assignment, but if the court orders you to pay your child support while doing the hokee pokee and impersonating a chicken, you had better start clucking).

The process starts by filing a motion for contempt (also called a "Motion for Rule to Show Cause" and a "Motion for Sanctions"; pick your poison.)  If the court determines that there is an indication that the court's order is not being followed, the court will schedule a hearing directing the other party to appear and give a reason (i.e. show cause) why he should not be held in contempt and appropriately punished.  That hearing order must be personally served on the other party unless his/her attorney accepts service on their behalf.
At the hearing itself, if the court determines that the person is in violation, the court may order sanctions ranging from a warning not to do it again all the way up to jail time for a period of six months for each violation.  If you pursue jail time, the other party has a right to counsel at the hearing and the court may appoint the public defender if the person qualifies.

The other party may "purge" themselves of contempt by getting the payments caught up by the time of the hearing or within a certain amount of time given by the court.  Conversely, if the obligor accumulates a substantial child support arrearage, he could be subject to criminal prosecution or suspension of his driver's license or hunting license, denial of a passport, and interception of a tax refund.  If you have other questions, contact the Alford Law Office.

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