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  1. #1

    Default Contempt for Nonpayment of Child Support - What if You Don't Pay a Purge Payment

    My question involves child support in the State of:Tennessee

    My ex husband was arrested Friday for willful contempt (I believe criminal) in nonpayment of child support. The arrears totalled almost 24k & in the 2 years since our divorce not a penny has been paid. Needless to say, the judge was not happy. He was sent to jail with a purge payment of $2500 and a judgment for the full arrearge was set.

    My question is - we return to court at the end of July. If he has not made the purge payment (not sure that he will) or paid any amount, what happens then? He says he is "unemployed" although I know full well he has been paid cash under the table for several odds & ends jobs. He also has not complied with any of the other orders such as half of medical, carrying secondary insurance, carrying life insurance, or providing me with copies of his tax statements. At the end of July, will he just be sent back to jail? I'm thankful that he is finally being held accountable after these hard years of me trying to make ends meet on my own, but also don't think I'll see a penny until he's let out - now that he knows the court is serious, he may at least ATTEMPT to pay SOMETHING. He says he's going to try to modify but hasn't yet.

    Does anyone have figures for what an unemployed NCP should pay for 2 children? He is unemployed by his own choice not because of any disability or lay off, etc. He also, at this time, has no visitation with the children but is still under orders to pay full support.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tennessee - Questions Purge Payments, Arrearage, Etc

    You can google your state CS calculator and that should give you a rough guideline; it could be set to $0, or Dad could be imputed an income based upon what he is capable of earning (or minimum wage).

    In all honesty, it's unlikely that he'll be in jail for long even if he is noncompliant again; and though I hate to be the bearer of bad news if he's genuinely dedicated to NOT paying his child support then nothing the courts do is going to make him pay.

    Some NCPs are happy with being jailed from time to time (because it's rarely for any major length of time), losing drivers license, never getting tax refunds etc.

    It's very sad.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  3. #3

    Default Re: Criminal Nonpayment of Child Support - What if You Don't Pay a Purge Payment

    First, thanks for retitling my post. I had no idea what to "name" it since I'm new to all of this.

    I have no illusion that he will ever pay or work frankly, and I can take care of my children on my own even if I have to scrimp or work extra. I don't NEED him to do it but would LIKE for him to do it. At the very least because at one point in time, he did happen to be a loving father to them. Addiction can do crazy things to a person.

    I tried the calculator with 0 as income and got 0 as the payment - LOL go figure! Put in $100/month & for two kids you get $32/month. When our divorce papers were signed and final, they put his income at $30k saying he was "able-bodied, young, and capable" and "should be contributing about 30k to the household". I knew he'd never be able to pay the almost $1000/month, but figured he'd signed it & the judge agreed, so what the heck. At least the judgment for arrears will follow him now. He's already lost his driver's license so he doesn't care about that. But I DO think the jail time will bother him - that's always been his biggest fear. I hated to do it to him, but at the same time, it's been two years, you USED to love these kids...I mean, come on. The judge was so angered that no attempt had been made. I think had he given me even $1, the judge would have been much more lenient! Maybe that's a lesson NCPs can take here - always TRY and make the court see that you're at least attempting to help support your children. The CP didn't make the children alone.

    Thanks for your reply. I'll be interested to see what happens at our next court date or if his parents come up with the purge payment. He's a bit of a "Momma's Boy" (His parents have never even laid eyes on my children & could care LESS about them.), and I think his Mom will do anything in her power to get her "Baby" out of jail. I'm some hideous monster witch to them & Friday just made it worse. I put him in jail according to them. It wasn't his own actions or him willfully ignoring a court order and the contract he himself signed.

    Ugh. I have a feeling he's going to try and get ugly now. All I care about is my children. I will fight for them every day of my life. They deserve at least $10 a week from their father!! Something!!

    Sorry for the vent. I know this is a "legal issues" board. I have learned a lot already just by looking around.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Criminal Nonpayment of Child Support - What if You Don't Pay a Purge Payment

    Civil contempt is meant to coerce compliance with a court's order. If you take the corrective action you are released from the civil sanction.

    Criminal contempt is meant to punish somebody for an offense against the court.

    I would assume from what you have told us that the $2,500 payment is required in association with a civil contempt proceeding. It would follow that if he pays that amount, thereby purging himself of contempt, he would not face further sanctions under the current contempt proceeding. If not, the court can find that he remains in contempt and continue to impose sanctions including incarceration. (Civil contempt is a limited remedy - after a certain amount of time, even if he has not purged himself of contempt, the court will release him. The next consequence might be criminal contempt proceedings or a referral to the prosecutor's office for possible criminal nonsupport charges.)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Contempt for Nonpayment of Child Support - What if You Don't Pay a Purge Payment

    Not totally sure of the legalese...but on my papers from the court it is listed as "willful contempt - criminal". From what I have gathered through my internet research (which is hard to muddle through - hence the name!), in TN a judge can jail for contempt criminally as a misdemeanor the first time (barring extenuating circumstances) and as a felony the second time. Other NCPs in court were charged with civil contempt but walked out. There is a "purge payment" set, though it was my understanding that the purge payment was essentially "bail" but paid to me. Not sure if that helps clarify, like I said - TOTALLY new to all this. It took me two years to even turn him in! Courts scare me! Even if I am totally truthful and have done nothing wrong, I'm always intimidated dealing with anything legal.

    Oh the judge did say he was taking "punitive action" because ex had "willfully" disobeyed the court. We've been in court several times in front of the same judge for other issues like no vistation/contact order, but that's a whole other story...I think the judge was just DONE with it all.

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