My husband was informed by his x-wife that he had to be in court tomorrow for contempt. He fell behind on childsupport due to being laid off and we live on 235.00 a wk of unemployment. He has tried so hard to find a job and has gone to sch for his CDL & almost finished welding sch too. He started having mini strokes recently and was given a letter by a neurologist that his mind comes and goes due to lack of o2 and cant work at all. He is trying to get medical help thru SSI and hopefully find the blockage. He did not receive a summons but she claims that he will be considered "unable to find" and she will get whatever she wantseven thou she knows where we live. He is afraid if he shows up they will put him in jail. He raised the child and payed support for about 5/6 yrs until Katrina took everything. please advise
State/Country relating to Question: Mississippi
this is my first attempt. dont have much time
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How did his ex inform him about the hearing?
by phone so we looked it up online and it there!..........Foster
1/19/2009 Summons to a Date Certain Issued to Attorney for Service (XXXXX XXXXX) 11/19/2009 Notice of Court Setting (1/4/10 @ 9:00am)(DNH) 10/26/2009 Rule 81 Summons issued to attorney for services (XXXXX XXXXX set for 11-17-09 @ 9:00 a.m.) 10/26/2009 Notices of Court Setting 11-17-09 @ 9:00 a.m. (Contempt)
10/23/2009 Complaint for Contempt 10/23/2009 Civil Cover Sheet
Thanks for the information.
If your husband knows about the hearing, HE MUST APPEAR. At the hearing, he can object to proper service and let the judge know that he never was served in person, nor did he receive any notification by mail. If he DOESN'T appear, it is likely that a warrant will be issued for his arrest. Things will have a MUCH better chance of working out if he appears. If he doesn't, he will DEFINITELY end up in jail.
If your husband objects to the service of process, the judge may, or may not, place the attorney or process server under oath to testify as to how service was effectuated. The judge can either find that there was proper service, or if there was not, dismiss the action without prejudice (meaning it can be brought back) and the process server or attorney may have their own problems with contempt.
However, assuming that the case goes forward, your husband can ask for a public defender or ask for an adjournment to speak to an attorney. He also has the right to proceed without the assistance of an attorney.
The problem that your husband faces is that when he became unable to make his support obligations, he didn't seek a reduction in support. Most states don't allow judges to retroactively change child support obligations. This means if a person becomes unable to pay support, the payor may petition the court for a reduction, but, even if the court reduces future payments, it will most likely hold the parent liable for the full amount of support owed at the time. For this reason, if a parent with a child support obligation starts falling behind because the parent's income has decreased or debts have increased, the parent should immediately seek a temporary modification.
When a person does not make child support payments on time, the overdue payments are called "arrearages," and the person is "in arrears" on payments. Judges have become very strict about enforcing child support orders and collecting arrearages. While the person in arrears can ask a judge to reduce the amount of future payments, the judge will usually insist that the arrearage be paid in full, either immediately or in installments. Your husband will have to present a reasonable explanation for his non-payment, and may have to explain why he didn't seek the assistance of the court for a reduction in his payments.
Federal laws allow the interception of tax refunds to enforce child support orders. Other methods of enforcement include wage attachments, seizing property, suspending the business or occupational license of a payer who is behind on child support, or -- in some states -- revoking the payer's driver's license. Your state's D.A. may employ any one of these methods in an attempt to help you collect from your ex. In addition, the U.S. Department of State may refuse to issue a passport to anyone who owes more than $2,500 in child support.
As a last resort, the court that has issued the child support order can hold your ex in contempt and, in the absence of a reasonable explanation for the delinquency, impose a jail term. This contempt power is exercised sparingly in most states, primarily because most judges would rather keep the payer out of jail where there's still a chance your husband will earn the income necessary to pay the support.
However, the more times that your husband is brought before the court for failure to pay, the more likely it is that jail will be imposed. Even if jail is imposed, your husband could ask for work release--meaning that he can be released from jail for purposes of work, and return to jail when his workday is completed. Work release is discretionary from the judge.
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