Oklahoma law allows a number of tools to aid the collection of past due child support. Some of these tools work better than others. Their use depends on the circumstances of each case. Tools include wage garnishment, levying against property, intercepting tax returns, suspending licenses, and contempt of court. Wage garnishments work well when a non-paying parent had a steady job. But what can the custodial parent do when the non-paying parent doesn’t work regularly? In that instance, a contempt of court citation can work.
Understanding Contempt Of Court
Contempt of court citations are used by the courts when a person disobeys a court’s order. Court-ordered child support orders are enforceable. When a parent disregards that order, they open themselves up to a possible contempt citation.
Contempt of court citations work best when the non-paying parent is located in Oklahoma. The more local, the better. It is easier to enforce.
To get a contempt of court citation is fairly easy. But it is helpful to have an experienced Okmulgee child support attorney handle the matter for you.
The violation of the court’s order must be established first. The parent seeking the citation must show there is an order in place, the non-paying parent knew about the obligation, had the ability to pay, and they didn’t pay. The trickiest part of the proof may lie in the requirement that they had the ability to pay.
Once that is done, there is an arraignment at which the non-paying party will plead either guilty or not guilty. If the party pleads not guilty, then the judge will set bail and set the case for either a jury or a bench trial. At the trial, evidence will be heard.
Because contempt of court is a quasi-criminal offense, the parent can face up to six months imprisonment upon conviction and a fine of up to $500.
Making A Deal To Help Collect Child Support
Although this tool doesn’t seem like it would be helpful in collecting child support, it can be very helpful. This is true especially when a deal can be worked out to suspend the six-month sentence. An experienced Okmulgee child support attorney can be helpful in terms of working out a deal that will get child support payments into a custodial parent’s pocket.
The court works out a deal by providing the non-paying parent the opportunity to pay regular support payments to catch up on the amount owed. The court sets up periodic reviews to ensure the parent is meeting their child support obligation. If the parent fails to pay the “purge amount,” then the court can send that parent to jail.
The “purge amount” is the amount the person must pay in order to stay out of jail. In a child support case, the entire arrearage should be set as the purge amount.
If you’ve got questions on how a contempt of court proceeding might work in your case, you need to speak to an experienced Okmulgee family law attorney. Each case is different, and those differences make a difference in terms of the appropriate tools to use for child support collection.
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