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What is a purge amount mean?

Metuchen, NJ |

The judge ordered my ex-husband to pay an amount by a certain date otherwise i can apply for a bench warrant with the Purge amount being set at $5000.00. What does this mean?

Attorney Answers 3


The amount that must be paid to secure the person's release from custody.

Legal disclaimer: In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.

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This is the amount needed to "purge the contempt" and be released from jail. This initial amount is often set based on the amount of arrears and previous findings of an ability to pay.

Within 72 hours of his being arrested, the court is required to hold an "ability to pay" hearing. At that hearing, the judge is required to tailor the release amount (or "purge amount") to findings backed by evidence as to how much he can actually pay to be released. If the judge doesn't make specific findings based on evidence (for example, if the judge just says something like "you owe $10,000 - come up with $2,500 to be released"), then the judge is making a mistake which would be reversed on an emergent appeal. Usually, the person in custody says something like "I can raise $XX" and, unless there's evidence to the contrary (indicating a higher amount could be paid), a judge who is following the law will usually set the release / purge amount at the amount the person has or can raise.

Also, if your ex is unemployed / indigent and requests an attorney, the court has to either appoint one or, if no attorneys are available, the court can't jail him.

A full copy of the AOC manual "use of warrants and incarceration in support enforcement hearings" is on my website - it's not very long and is mandatory reading for anyone involved in the enforcement process - .

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That is the amount your ex-husband must pay to the court (probation), otherwise the court will arrest and confine him in jail until he pays.

The answers provided here are no substitute for proper legal advice tailored to your specific facts and circumstances. The opinions expressed here shall not be construed as legal advice or result in the creation of an attorney-client relationship. You are always advised to seek independent legal advice from an attorney of your choosing who can analyze the facts and circumstances of your case in more specific detail.

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