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Child Support Civil Contempt Hearing, First Time, Will I Go To Jail?

Beckley, WV |

I've been ordered to appear at a civil hearing for contempt of court for non-payment of child support. I have been sporadically employed over the course of the last few years through no fault of my own. I am currently employed and having my wages garnished to make child support payments, but due to the nature of my job, we're in an "off season" right now, where there isn't very much work to be done, thus I've not been able to make a full payment. But I am making payments nonetheless. I am currently just over $20,000 in arrears and this is the first time I've been summoned to court over this. What should I expect from this? Will I face jail time?

I should probably also note that the job I currently have, I've only had for about 6 weeks now. I got it after they had started the paperwork for the contempt case, but before I actually myself found out about it. I have no idea if that makes any difference at all.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Best answer

    Anything could happen, even a first time in court on contempt, given this arrearage. You should have been filing modifications to deal with loss of jobs and seasonal downturns. But that is now water under the bridge. make sure child support is adjusted to account for your present seasonal downturn. I would very much have a lawyer with you.

    To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state (in WV, on inactive status as of 9/13), I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.


  2. Anything over $7,000 in arrears in WV is a serious offense. You really need the guidance of a skilled family law attorney in Beckley that can defend you in the contempt proceeding and work on a modification of your child support obligations for the future. Good luck.

    My answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or establish any attorney-client relationship.

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