New York Opinion Discusses Incarceration in Child Support Cases

The cost of raising a child increases each year, and few people can afford it alone. As such, in cases in which parents split custody of a child, the courts will often order one parent to pay the other child support. If a parent refuses to pay child support, they can be held in contempt and may be incarcerated. As discussed in a recent New York ruling, however, the courts may be reluctant to both sentence a parent to serve time in prison and order them to pay child support arrears. If you have questions about your rights pertaining to child support, it is wise to confer with a New York child support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the husband filed a motion requesting the court to find the wife in contempt of court for deliberately failing to comply with court orders to pay monthly child support and maintenance. The amount in arrears exceeded $48,000. The court ordered the wife to pay half of the arrears by a certain date in order to avoid further sanctions.

Allegedly, the wife failed to fully pay the purge amount. Consequently, the court issued an Order of Commitment, resulting in the wife’s imprisonment for a maximum term of three weeks. After the wife was released from custody, the court addressed the issue of whether the wife’s incarceration satisfied the purge amount.

Incarceration in Child Support Cases

The court explained that after examining relevant legal cases, it found no direct answer. Typically, in previous cases, the contemnor paid the purge amount before serving the full term of incarceration, resulting in their release. In some instances, a money judgment was entered for additional arrears. Consequently, the court lacked guidance on the outcome when a party fails to satisfy the purge amount but completes the entire incarceration period.

The court noted that the purpose of child support is to assist the custodial parent in providing for the child’s basic needs. Additionally, the court recognized the importance of enforcing its own orders, particularly regarding child support. It expressed concerns, however, about the punitive nature of depriving the wife of her liberty for failing to pay the purge amount and subsequently entering a money judgment against her for the same sum, noting that this outcome would be punitive rather than remedial, contradicting the purpose of civil contempt. As such, the court ordered that the wife purge her contempt by serving her entire incarceration period. She owed the husband the remaining pendente lite child support and maintenance arrears.

Speak to New York Child Support Attorney

Parents have an obligation to provide financial support for their children, and if they refuse to uphold their duties, they may be sanctioned by the courts. If you need assistance handling a child support dispute, it is prudent to speak to an attorney about your options. Rudyuk Law Firm, P.C. is a recognized New York City Divorce Law Firm that has successfully handled numerous issues of child support. The Firm child support attorneys can assess the facts of your case and assist you in seeking your desired outcome. Schedule your initial call with the Firm via the form online or at 212-706-2001.

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