We are continuing our discussion of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case about child support. The appellant hadn't been able to pay. The family court found him in contempt and sentenced him to a year in jail. The Supreme Court was asked if a non-custodial parent has the right to counsel in a child custody hearing when incarceration is a possible outcome.
This past March, we talked about a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. One of the issues involved civil contempt for past due child support payments. The Court handed down its ruling recently, and the result could mean some changes to Illinois courts.
We're wrapping up our series on the child support case recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The father was in serious arrears with his support payments and had been haled into court on the matter many times. He explained to the court that he was simply too poor to make the payments, and the family court charged him with civil contempt and sent him to jail each time. The man argues that the court should have appointed an attorney for him. The Supreme Court is now asked to determine if courts should appoint an attorney for unrepresented, indigent parties in civil matters (specifically child support cases).
In our last post, we were discussing a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The controversy at the bottom of the matter involves a father who could not make his child support payments. Charged with civil contempt, the man was sent to jail a number of times, at least once for as long as a year. The objective of civil contempt is coercion, not punishment. The defendant claims his jail time was pure punishment, because he was too poor to make the support payments.
If a father hasn't paid child support in accordance with a court order, he can be sent to jail. There are penalties for not doing what a court of law tells you to do -- you can wind up with a civil contempt of court charge and jail time. The most famous civil contempt of court cases involve reporters who refuse to reveal their sources after a judge has issued an order. They spend time in jail until they disclose the information, or they appeal, typically with the help of the newspaper's attorney.