Jailed on Contempt of Court charges due to failure to pay child support, what now?

Asked over 2 years ago - Worcester, MA

A friend was taken into custody at a probate hearing and is now ordered to pay $104,000 before they will release him. The Dept. of Revenue has emancipated him, in writing, but the court didn't accept it due to his divorce decree stating otherwise.
What are the next steps?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Nicole C. Armstrong

    Contributor Level 12

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your friend absolutely needs to hire an attorney. The facts as you have presented do not sound quite right and a review of the paperwork would be necessary. The point of placing someone in jail with a purge amount is to secure payment. $104K sounds too high to be a reasonable purge amount as it is unlikely someone would be able to come up with that sum of money. Although if he has been behind for a significant period of time without a good faith effort at paying back the arrears, then it is possible the Judge felt as though this was the only way to get his attention. Also, just because DOR has deemed someone emancipated does not mean that the child is emancipated by law. DOR takes the position that upon age 18, child support stops; however the emancipation statute provides for child support to continue to age 21 or 23 depending on certain factors. It is clear that a review of the paperwork is necessary in order to flush out the circumstances and the facts. Further, there may be remedies available; however they would be procedural Motions and would require the experience of a family law attorney.

    This response is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal advice; nor is this answer intended... more
  2. Alan J Pransky

    Contributor Level 13

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your friend should hire a lawyer. There are very few reasons to release him without payment in full. A lawyer would be his best chance to present the arguments to the Judge. Of course, payment in full would get him released. Unless your friend is unable to work due to a disability, the court will keep putting pressure on him until he is current in his child support obligations. Temporary financial problems like unemployment won't excuse this obligation.

  3. Jeffrey Allan Miller

    Contributor Level 7

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your friend may have the funds available to pay this, if the Court ordered him/her to remain in custody until the full amount is paid. This seems like an unusual sentence. I have seen the Court incarcerate someone up to 60 days. There is always a set amount of time the individual shall remain incarcerated. More facts are needed to better assess his/her options in this situation. Paying child support is not an option in Massachusetts. He should hire a good Family Law attorney to assist him in this matter.

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