Child Support Contempt is a common issue with Jacksonville Family law and divorce cases. When it comes to child support, often child support contempt motions are part of the norm. As a Jacksonville child support attorney and family attorney, I have found that frustrations regarding child support are present on both sides. Parents that receive child support are often bothered when the paying parent fails to make child support payments. The parent required to pay child support is often frustrated when he or she can’t afford to make the payments. Child support contempt proceedings usually come up at some point in these situations.
The Issue if Non-Payment and What to Do About It
Failure to pay child support gets the receiving parent charged up. This often leads to motions for child support contempt. Once the motion for child support contempt has been filed and scheduled for a hearing, the filer has to prove two things at the hearing. First, he or she must prove that there is a valid order from the court requiring the other parent to pay. Next, he or she must prove that the other person has failed to pay as required in the child support order while having ability to pay. Ordinarily, these two things are easy to prove. The court’s records will, of course, contain proof that there is a valid child support order. Next, the child support payment history will show a lack of payment.
Now that the order has been shown to be valid, and it has been shown that payments have not been made as required while having the ability to pay, what’s next?
After the it has been proved that there is a valid child support order and the required payments have not been made, the burden then is on the parent that failed to pay support to prove that he or she does not have the ability to pay the required support. There isn’t necessarily a burden placed on the receiving parent to show that the other parent CAN pay. The ability to pay is presumed based on the issuing of the original support obligation.
For example, in the case of Herrera v. Sanchez, the Father was required to pay $180 in child support every two weeks. When he failed to make the payments as ordered, the mother filed a contempt motion. The father was ultimately found in contempt, but the contempt order was overturned on appeal, because the evidence did not show that the father had the ability to pay the ordered amount, even though the court felt that the father was employed below his ability. For contempt purposes, the father was unable to pay. The court went on to state that the appropriate thing for the trial court to do was to order the Father to seek more substantial employment. In the event he failed to do so, the Father could be held in contempt for not following the court’s direction. However, where the actual final ability did not make him capable of paying, he could not be held in contempt for failing to pay.
At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville child support lawyers that can help you find your way through the complicated legal process. Call today to schedule a free consultation.