Jailed for child support ... next step


My brother has been going through a child support/child custody case for over a year. I’ll give you some background. His wife left him (leaving him with their 5 children ages 3-11) for 2 months last summer. At that time he was able to get emergency temporary custody since no one knew where she was or if she was coming back. This is in Alamance County. Once she returned, he drew up a custody agreement allowing her to have visitation. Within a few months she decided she wanted full custody of the kids and clearly he wanted full custody. During the 2 months she was missing, she moved to Colorado with her boyfriend. In December of last year, their case was heard and the mother was granted temporary full custody because … she was the mother. That was stated by the judge. He was given visitation and ordered to pay child support. He has barely received the visitation he was granted - she refuses. His child support payments were based on false numbers she provided (he was self-employed) and his information was never viewed as evidence. The child support payments he was ordered are more than he makes in a month, leaving him with no money, which meant he couldn’t pay the full amount. She has gone back and forth wanting to settle out of court, then changing her mind. When she wanted to settle out of court, they had a mediator (not court appointed) work with them to make an agreement. They came up with an agreement that was suitable for all, had the lawyer draw it up, but ultimately refused to sign. His lawyer filed for change of circumstances in May but that was never heard. He also filed motions to have permanent custody and child support heard. They still have not been heard (filed back in March). He has since lost his lawyer (doesn’t have any money) which isn’t a bad thing because clearly his lawyer hurt him rather than help. Two weeks ago he was taken to court for contempt - failure to pay child support (the amount is $2300) even though he was paying her the $700/mo. they argreed on each month. Three weeks ago he filed for bankruptcy and had to close his business (lack of business - couldn’t afford to keep it open - furniture builder). He told the judge he needed his child support reduced and needed to find a new job. The judge did not listen to any of his evidence nor hear evidence from his 2 witnesses. He ordered him to go to jail for 30 days or pay the $2200 purge. We, his family, has paid 2 other purges to keep him out of jail because the court has not heard his change of circumstances plea. We cannot afford to pay another. The court has been given evidence that the previous purges were loans from other people, not his money. He can’t afford it! She has moved to Southport. We’ve asked for court transcripts … still haven’t received them. We asked for his release date - no one will tell us. We asked for the court order - her attorney has not written it up. I know I’m throwing a lot of information your way. What do you suggest we do next?


Your brother should not be jailed for more than 30 days. Upon release I suggest he hire a new attorney, or seek service from legal aid to reduce his child support obligation. From the facts you list his former attorney was obviously ineffective in presenting the necessary evidence to illicit an appropriate amount of child support.


Thank you for your response. Can you tell me what legal aid is? Also, if she lives in Southport with the children, can he change the venue to get it out of Alamance county?


Legal Aid is an organization which provides legal services to those who cannot afford the same. As for venue, while it is a Defendant’s right to have an action transferred to the county where they reside a motion to change venue must be made with in the first 30 days of the action or the Defendant’s right is lost.