Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Overview of how contempt of court works in California

As many parents may know already, and as this blog may have mentioned on previous occasions, one of the means a court can enforce its orders to pay child support by holding those who do not pay in contempt of court and punishing them accordingly.

Under California law, a person is in contempt of court if they violate a court order. A parent who is behind in court-ordered child support payment is obviously in violation of the court's orders, but that parent ordinarily will be given an opportunity to offer an explanation before a court finds a parent in contempt or imposes a punishment.

The punishments a court can impose may include jail time or community service. Even though the jail terms that can be imposed are relatively short, they still can impose a huge inconvenience on the person who has to suffer this sort of punishment.

The penalties associated with contempt of court may be just enough incentive to get a parent to change his or her ways and pay child support. On the flip side, a parent who is behind in support but has honestly fallen on some hard times may want the opportunity to explain his or her circumstances to the court. This may, after all, prevent a punishment that would be unfair under the circumstances.

No matter which side one is on, a contempt proceeding for failure to pay child support is a serious affair. For this reason, a parent who feels like they need to make a serious step toward enforcing a support order should consider speaking with their family law attorney before doing anything drastic. Likewise, someone formally charged with contempt should consider speaking with an attorney about their defense.

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Kevin Qualls Family Law
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