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Is there a law that specifies how long someone can be held in jail for contempt of child support?

Atlanta, GA |

My ex is currently in jail due to non-payment of child support. His attorney would like to negotiate an amount other than what the Judge ordered him to purge himself of....I DO NOT want less than what the judge order ($10,000.00) because
1)considered all the times I have been to court for the issue it's seem fair to me.
2) to ACCEPT an amount lower than what the judge ordered...would be DISRESPECT in my opinion and may be used by my ex later....that I have agreed to less than the judge ordered.

he disobeyed the order by NOT turning himself in and was arrested 25 days later on an outstanding warrant. He has no respect for the Judge and certainly not the court/law. He is not employed and sells drugs.

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Contempt can be criminal (setnece witha specific langth of time) or civil, If the contempt for non-payment of child support is a civil contempt it must be willful. The "Defendant holds the keys to the cell in his pocket." Thus, if the Defendant remains in jail and losses his job, home, car, and other assets, he no longer will have the ability to purge himself of the contempt and wil be released at that time.

I am sure you are frustrated with the process. I would encourage you to try to work an amicable solution, but if you cannot, he may be in jail for some time and loose his aiblity to make payments in the future. Many times, one bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.



The Defendant is not employed legally should I say, he is a drug dealer. He has paid an attorney 1 day prior to the purge pymt due....the judge DENIED the motion for reconsideration, not to mention that he hired an attorney over paying his child support....I would like to think that the Judge will REMEMBER that.


There is a law that specifies how long someone can be held in jail for contempt of child support. However, it does not provide specifics.

As Mr. Salata provided, a person who has been found in contempt for not paying child support may be released upon payment of the purge amount or upon a showing that he/she is truly unable to pay it. The showing of an inability to pay may be by losing employment while incarcerated or by being incarcerated for an extended amount of time. (Again, there is no magical number for how long in jail is "too long" and warranting of release.)

You are under no obligation to enter into an agreement modifying the court's order. (Even if you reach an agreement, the court is under no obligation to accept the modification and may not order his release even if he abides by your new terms.) That being said, depending on the specifics of your situation, there may be some benefit to you in working some sort of arrangement. (For instance, you may consider allowing/requesting that he be allowed work release.)

If you do come to a proposed agreement, I would suggest you "run it by" an attorney before formally agreeing to it. You want to make sure that you do not hurt yourself in the process.

Good luck to you.

~ Kem Eyo

The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.



He does not have employment to be considered for work release. The attorney's asked what amount would I be willing to accept other than what the judge ordered. That tells me that he has the means to pay but he wants to pay less than ordered only because he is really manipulating the court system.

Ikemesit Amajak Eyo

Ikemesit Amajak Eyo


As I stated, you are completely within your rights to NOT agree to anything.


Well, you can get "something" or he can sit in jail you get nothing. Which would you prefer?

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I was getting nothing when he was out and free, so I guess if he sits long enough, maybe someone will miss him and PAY his child support. So I take "sit in jail" for $10,000.00 please.


There is no specific law. The Judge's order will generally say that the person is incarcerated until payment of a specific amount. That person could get out of jail by filing a motion, going before the court and demonstrating an inability to pay the amount set in the order.

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