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Seattle Scott
Seattle Scott, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 961
Experience:  I have 25 years experience as a Washington State Family Law Attorney.
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I am in Colorado and facing a contempt of court hearing in

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I am in Colorado and facing a contempt of court hearing in June for not being able to pay child support and maintenance. I owe approximately $20,000 in arears. If I am found guilty what circumstances would the judge use to decide whether or not to put me in jail? What is the likelihood of serving jail time?

Some additional facts are as follows: My ex gave me permission to pay late only to use it against me by contacting the county when I wouldn't allow her to move the children to another school district. The county is who has filed the contempt charge. I have proof of this in the form of emails.

I was not aware that we couldn't come to a different agreement outside the separation agreement to delay payment (not reduce or eliminate amounts due) so my late payments were not an attempt to show disrespect to the court. Also, as a return of a favor to her I performed all of the driving tasks in getting the children to and from school and daycare during her parenting time.

My gross revenues from my business have dropped $50,000 over the last five yeras. I've managed to reduce expenses but not by nearly enough to match this decline.

I believe I can reduce the $20,000 past due amount by about half before my court date.

I am self employed and work regular day hours and I also work in the evenings when my children are not with me.

I have my children 43% of the time. I am not a weekend parent.

I realize this is a very difficult question to answer because it seems that the decision could depend on whether or not the judge had a second cup of coffee that morning but I was hoping to find out what experience has shown you. In your best opinion is jail time a certainty under these facts and circumstances?

Thank you
Jail time is not a certainty. It is being using to see if you have any money that you can find/borrow rather than go to jail. It is a judgment call as to whether you are better off paying what you can, when you can, as the hearing approaches, or make it appear at the hearing that you just borrowed money from your brother and show up with a cashiers check for $5k to $10K at the hearing. Child support is always modifiable downward when income declines, same for maintenance ( unless you agreed to it being non-modifiable at the conclusion of the divorce) so just because you can't pay anything on a month to month basis, doesn't mean you shouldn't seek reduction of both obligations. Your situation is common - you owe $20K because when you couldn't pay you didn't seek a reduction as to the future amounts because you were at wits end.

I am sure you have additional questions.
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