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I need to file Criminal Contempt for unpaid child support I need need to do this myself because I do not have $ for an attorney.

Sacramento, CA |

The other parent owes over $10, 000. Lives with another person and that person's child. States that neither adult has a traceable income. They pay rent to an apartment complex, have cell phones and satelite dish, and a car registered to their address but a false name. I have served a subpeona on the apartment complex to get a payment history for eveidence in a civil contempt but they are not being cooperative. Please help. My son is also a special needs child.

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Attorney answers 3


Contempt is short for "contempt of court". This action is initiated by a judge after a show cause hearing.

The person you are pursuing may not have much money either.

You also said the other parent "lives with another person". If the other person has the car, the dish, etc; it does not mean that the other parent owns or controls these things.

Hire a family law attorney without delay and get them to go over your matter with you.

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Filing and prosecuting a contempt is simply not a "do it yourself" job; there are significant numbers of attorneys who don't know how to do it correctly. There are more effective and less costly ways to collect support. Have you contacted the local offices of the state Department of Child Support Services?

Christina Marie Sherman

Christina Marie Sherman


I agree with Mr. Gould-Saltman. Opening a case with DCSS may take a few months, but once the case is opened, DCSS can initiate the proper proceeding.


This is a collection issue. Very few people have no bank account and no job. Have you set him down and taken his testimonial under oath as to his assets? Whatever he uses to pay his bills can be levied on. If he has a job his wages can be garnished.

DCSS will go after this-- why have you not given them this case?

Contempt is not really family law it is criminal law. It has to be proven he has the ability to pay. Contempt cannot be proven on these facts-- if YOU can't find his income how do you expect a court to do so?

If there really is money and he is hiding it BORROW some money to hire a private investigator to find it. Again-IF there is money you will be able to repay the loan. if there is no money no court order will help. But also again-- DCSS will do this and seize his drivers license and any tax refunds and you won't have to pay them.

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DCSS has known about this for almost a year. That agency is who told me directly to file a contempt case on my own because it would be quicker. They have suspended his license a year ago but that has not prevented him from driving. He is not paying amd he is getting away with it. I have gottem mo help at all from dcds.

Edna Carroll Straus

Edna Carroll Straus


Whoever that was at DCSS who told you that is apparently practicing law without a license. You won't succeed using contempt. The ONLY remedy that does no require you to spend money is DCSS. Yes it's slow but that judgment is collecting interest at 10% a year. Sorry, but lawyers have been telling clients we had no magic bullet for decades. Or at least the honest ones do.

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