Court Actions

A female judge holds a gavel.

A child support agency or custodial party may file a court action against parents who fail to pay child support. Contempt of court or criminal nonsupport charges may be filed. If convicted, the court may fine and/or jail parents for not paying support.

Contempt of Court

A child support agency or parent who is owed support may file for a contempt hearing. If the court finds that a parent could have paid child support but did not, the court can find that parent in contempt of court. The court may order a jail sentence but may also set purge conditions, which the payer can submit to avoid going to jail. Purge conditions are usually an amount of money that can be paid towards the past-due child support amount.

Criminal Nonsupport

Criminal nonsupport is a crime prosecuted by the district attorney or by tribal court. Child support agencies may refer cases to the district attorney. The parent who is owed child support may file a complaint directly with the district attorney. The district attorney decides whether or not to take the case, usually after talking with the child support agency.