Defending Child Support Enforcement/Contempt

Jackson Law Group
Board Certified
214-369-7100

 

You have been or were ordered to pay child support, but for one reason or another you did not pay it as ordered.  The Jackson Law Group defends child support enforcement actions.  Call our office to set up a free initial consultation.

When defending a child support claim, an enforcement action, one of the fist things you need to look at is what the order says.  In addition, there may be multiple orders with conflicting child support provisions.  Then yhou need to compare what the order says to what was calculated on the Attorney General’s reported child support account.  In many cases, the order for child support is ambiguous on its face.  Secondly, the ambiguous order may have caused the Attorney General Office to input an incorrect number into their account.  So what does that mean – it means child support was ordered but in what amount we have no idea.  Therefore, there cannot be contempt on that order.  This is not true for every case.  We will have to look at your orders and make an analysis.

What  are the potential penalties for failure to pay child support as ordered?  Depending on the circumstances – this could very well be jail.  It is not uncommon for the Court to order an obligor taken into custody at the hearing.   In other circumstances, the obligor may lose their professional license whether that is a plumber, doctor, lawyer, or electrician.  They can even revoke a hunting license or drivers license.  More likely, your first hearing will be reset and the court, after a good talking to, will give you an opportunity to make some “significant” payment.  After that, some agreement can be reached with regards to the child support arrearage if owed and the child support obligation going forward.  Most courts are going to provide some opportunity to make an arrangement on any past due child support before they move forward with more onerous methods of collection.

The following scenarios are very common:

  • You may or may not have known about the child in the first place.
  • You may have paid your child support directly to the former spouse when you were supposed to pay it through the state agency (the State Disbursement Unit).   Always follow the order, pay to the State Disbursement Unit.
  •  You may have provided actual support, that is bought clothes or provided day care, for your child but were ordered to do something else.  Or,  you may have provided actual support for your child where there was no order to pay child support through the state agency.
  • Your child support may have simply been miscalculated through an order.  Or, you, although ordered to pay child support, lost your job.  If you lose your job, don’t sleep on your rights.  Take steps to get the child support modified immediately.
  • The child may be living and have been living with you. 

These are examples of the number of difficulties that can arise in the child support scenario.  This is where you may hear this term for the first time – arrearages (means you owe the money – past due child support).  The Jackson Law Group defends child support claims.

We know how you feel? We have had those cases where the child was a product of a “one night stand.”  Or, the relationship was a “friends with benefits” scenario where ultimately a child was produced.   We understand the dilemma.  The problem is – a child was produced and that child requires support – all those things a child needs as he or she grows.  The court will order support.

Note: if your partner has produced a child as a result of an informal relationship, DO NOT think that they will be “reasonable” and that you can make informal payments.  You need orders in place as soon as possible.  That would be through a suit to establish paternity.  Waiting around or procrastinating will cause you to establish an arrearage.  Just get the orders and pay as ordered.

You may be of the opinion that there is no way that they will take you from the court to jail.  You are thinking the court will “give me a chance” or “I’ll get a good talking to but that is all,”  usually at a first setting this scenario will likely be true. However, after the chance(s) and the talking, they take action.   They care not about your car in the parking lot and whether or not it will towed.  They do not care about your job, you obligation to pick up a child.  It can be very harsh.  This is why you need to mount a defense.  The Jackson Law Group will provide you a defense.

There are several legal defenses for non payment of child support. These include:

  • Physical possession of the child
  • Making payments directly to the custodial parent
  • Inability to pay (for example, homelessness)
  • Physical or mental incapacity that developed after the divorce

 

If a child support case is brought against you, we can meet with you, examine the basis for any missed payments and compare your payment records to the state disbursement records.  We can them discuss possible strategies and solutions that will resolve your case.