Civil Contempt - Ensuring Noncustodial Parents Have the Ability to Pay.

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Year Published
2016
Author (Organization)
Office of Child Support Enforcement, Division of Policy and Training.
Resource Type
Fact Sheet
Resource Format
PDF
As the federal agency responsible for funding and oversight of state child support programs, OCSE has an interest in ensuring that: constitutional principles articulated in the U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S.___, 131 S Ct. 2507 (2011) are carried out in the child support program; child support case outcomes are just and comply with due process; and enforcement proceedings are cost-effective and in the best interest of the child. The Turner case provides OCSE and state child support agencies with an opportunity to evaluate the appropriate use of civil contempt and to improve program effectiveness, including adequate case investigation. As the U.S. Supreme Court stated in Turner v. Rogers, a noncustodial parent’s ability to pay constitutes the “critical question” in a civil contempt case, whether the state provides legal counsel or alternative procedures designed to protect the indigent obligor’s constitutional rights. The final rule revises 45 CFR 303.6(c)(4), by establishing criteria that child support agencies must use to determine which cases to refer and how they prepare cases for a civil contempt proceeding. The main goal is to increase consistent child support payments for children by ensuring that low-income parents are not incarcerated unconstitutionally because they are poor and unable to comply with orders that do not reflect their ability to pay. In addition, the final rule is intended to reduce the routine use of costly and often ineffective contempt proceedings and increase case investigation and more cost-effective collection efforts. (Author abstract)

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