Contempt of Court for Child Support


My stbx filed a contempt of child support order against me. I was ordered by the judge in January of 2008 to begin the payments.

I got a job in April & have only given her half of what is owed. My court date is March 16th.

Would I be facing jail if were to give her the other half of the money today/right now or is it too late since the motion of contempt has been filed?


If you are able to purge yourself of contempt by paying the support owed you will not be ordered to go to jail if your ex has filed a motion for civil contempt, which is normally the case when a motion for contempt on unpaid child support is made. Civil Contempt requires that you “hold the keys to your jail cell” meaning that you control your release by doing the action that you were originally ordered to do. If you pay prior to the hearing you will not go to jail.


My former husband is in the same situation. We went to court in the fall. He was held in contempt for failure to pay child support and he was sentenced to jail. He was then given 150 days to purge the contempt by paying the back owed. The 150 day mark is coming up. He only paid one half of the back owed and has not been making current payment.

What needs to be done when 150 days have passed. My attorney says we have to go to court again. For the last 2 trials he was ordered to pay atty fees, which he has not done. My debts are mounting because of his actions.

Will he get to plead his case again? Nothing has changed in his situation besides the fact that he makes less then what he spends and basically is choosing to pay his bills over child support. Will he go to jail right then? How will they make him pay?


You will have to return to court and your husband will be sent to jail unless he is up to date on the payments by the time you appear in court. You should have your attorney file a motion for contempt regarding the attorney’s fees as well. Once a person has been held in contempt and given the chance to purge, the courts will not give the person another chance to explain the circumstances. He had his chance to avoid jail, and he failed to use it.


Thank you,

One other question. The hearing on the contempt charge was in September and it was for failure to pay support from March to September. The judge found him suppressing his income in bad faith and handed down the contempt charge. Like I said, the judge gave him 150 days from when he signed the order to purge the contempt and the amount owed was for the back support calculated.

I understand that he must pay the purge amount or he goes to jail. Does that also include the amount he is currently delinquent in also (the monthly support from Oct to the present) or does that charge have to be brought up in a separate hearing?

Or, can my lawyer(at the time of the hearing if he fails to pay purge) have another motion to hold him in contempt of the current amount due.

I hope this makes sense. Basically, after the contempt hearing, he only paid a portion of the back support owed and continued to not make payments on the current monthly support. Nor did he file a motion to lower his support obligation.


You will need to address the further unpaid support at the hearing as well, the judge has no way of knowing he has gotten even further behind unless you let him know at the hearing.


thank you so very much.

My former spouse is pressuring me into an agreement where I would allow him to pay smaller payments now and higher in the future. Also, he suggested transferring the amount owed to me in retirement funds (we have not even settle ED yet). Problem is I cannot trust his word. Plus, I have not received CS/SS for an entire year and retirement money will not help me pay my bills. (He told me I could withdrawal from the retirement if I needed cash, but why should I be the one to pay the penalties and taxes)

Point is, I need the cash to take care of the children now and he was held in willful contempt so the judge already determined he has the funds to pay. Will he be able to bring up in court that he has been asking me to “make a deal” with him but I refused negotiations. Does the court expect me to try to settle this with him out of court.


From personal experience, if you can’t trust him, do NOT trust him. I gave my ex SOOO many chances to ‘make good’ and he didn’t. The only way he would do as he was supposed to was through the court.
This is a control thing. Even if there IS an agreement, I would still put it through the courts.

He can bring up his suggested agreement out of court, but you are not bound to agree to anything…especially if it’s not fair. You may be asked about it, so just tell them why you found the proposals unacceptable. You aren’t expected to work something out outside of court. You CAN, but you don’t have to. RIght now, he’s in contempt. He will have to answer to that no matter what.

Unfortunately, SOME men are untrustworthy. The won’t listen to you OR reason, so they have to answer to the court.


Thank you, cc2.

I feel I have come this far and I will not back down, esp if what he offers is not fair or just. My X handled all the family finances for 20 years, I have worked at the same job for that time and our % split of income was 15% me, 85% him. He did not pay SS/CS for one year. How did he think the kids and I survived?? He knew what our household budget was like and what bills we had. Did he care. He did not even send enough to cover lunch money.

I think his goal was to put me in financial ruin that I would be forced to sell the marital home or change jobs, work two jobs, whatever…

How did I survive- through loans from family and friends, debts to banks, running up credit cards and running down my credit score quickly. When he finally made a portion of the back support this fall (because the judge made him take it from an account or my lawyer was authorized to withdraw it) I used that money to pay back my loans to family and friends, pay my lawyer and pay for my our two children who are in college. I had very little left. And despite what the judge said, he continued to not send any monthly support.

Hopefully he will pay up before he is sent to jail, but if he has to go, then he had his chance and he made that decision. He cannot blame it on me.