Given the current financial challenges many people in Michigan are facing because of the continuing health crisis, some of their bills have not been paid in full or are not being paid at all. One of the most problematic is child support. The state will take certain steps when child support is not paid. That can include enforcement options to penalize the delinquent parent or to convince them to pay. Understanding a civil contempt hearing – also referred to as “show cause” – and having legal assistance is key.
Understanding show cause hearings and the potential penalties
The state expects supporting parents to make their payments on time and in full. Sanctions can be levied for failure to do so. A show cause hearing will be initiated by the Friend of the Court or a party to the court. The paying parent must appear at the hearing. If the payment is not made after the paying parent is found to be in civil contempt, he or she may be sent to jail. Failure to appear can result in a bench warrant after which the person will be arrested to be brought to court.
Other penalties can include a lien against property the person owns, a passport being denied, a driver’s license suspension, a professional license suspension, or a boot being placed on the person’s vehicle. There might also be an order to take part in a parenting program, be ordered to secure employment, or to comply with an order where support is past due. The lien may be put in place if the person is more than two months behind. Passport denial may be done if the person is a minimum of $2,500 in arrears or is not making the payments based on the plan. The license suspensions can be done if the person is at least two months behind, is not adhering to the plan, or does not appear at the hearing.
Parents with child support problems may benefit from legal assistance
The parent who is supposed to be receiving child support payments and is not should be aware of their rights to get what is owed. On the other side of the coin, the parent who is obligated to pay and is having problems doing so to the point where they are called to a show cause hearing to face potential punishments should also know how to protect themselves. The ramifications for failure to pay child support can be challenging for both sides and it is wise to have legal help to deal with these issues before they get out of control.