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Holding parents who won’t pay child support in contempt of court

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2023 | Child Custody

If a parent who owes child support fails to make the payments required of them and becomes delinquent, they might be held in contempt of court. This is because a child support order is an order of the court that they have deliberately violated. One way a custodial parent can attempt to get the noncustodial parent to pay what they owe in child support is by having the noncustodial parent held in contempt of court.

Civil contempt of court consequences

A delinquent parent might be held in civil contempt of court. If they can pay what they owe, they might have to spend time in jail until they agree to pay it. They might face a substantial fine in addition to paying what they owe in support. They might also be ordered to perform community service and pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees.

Holding a delinquent parent in contempt of court

If your child’s other parent will not pay the child support they owe, and you want to have them held in contempt of court, you must file a written motion asking the court to do so. However, in California you only have so long to file such a motion due to a time limit referred to in legal jargon as a “statute of limitations.” Basically, you can only pursue a motion for contempt of court for failure to pay child support for three years following the due date of the delinquent payment.

Holding a delinquent parent in contempt of court is a significant consequence for failing to pay child support. While it can lead to the payment of what is owed, there are other methods a court can employ to collect past due child support that can be just as or more effective.