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How To Get Out of Contempt of Court Charges For Child Support?


If you fail to pay child support as ordered by a court, there are several methods that can be used to force you to pay. Contempt of court charges is just one of the methods.

Failing to obey an order to pay child support may also affect your Social Security disability benefits. The fact that you have a disability that prevents you from working does not automatically relieve you of your obligation to pay child support. You must take action to get the support order changed and the contempt charges removed to prevent it from affecting your disability benefits.

The following information about child support payments and Social Security benefits will give you a better understanding of the challenges you may face. Discuss them with an SSD lawyer at London Disability to determine the best way to resolve them.

How does child support arrears affect your SSD benefits?

Child support obligations are governed by state laws. As a general rule, if you fail to meet your support obligation as ordered by a court, there are several methods judges have at their disposal to collect what is owed, including:

  • Garnishment of wages and other types of income
  • Seizure of state and federal income tax refunds
  • Liens on real property
  • Contempt of court

A garnishment order is usually served on your employer. It directs the employer to withhold a portion of your wages, which are used to meet all or a portion of your child support obligation. A garnishment order may also be used to take a portion of your SSD benefits depending on the type of benefits that you receive.

If you qualify for and receive monthly Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI benefits, a portion of your monthly benefit may be taken through a garnishment order and applied toward child support that you owe. However, if the monthly benefits are paid to you through the Supplemental Security Income program or SSI, those benefits cannot be taken through a garnishment order.

What is child support contempt of court?

When you fail to make child support payments according to the terms of a support order, a judge may decide to hold you in contempt of court. Contempt of court charges generally are reserved for those cases where other collection methods have been tried and failed. The penalty for being held in contempt of court can be a fine or confinement to jail.

Although federal regulations do not call for suspension of your SSDI or SSI benefits for contempt of court charges, the penalty imposed on you for the contempt charges may affect your benefits. The Social Security law does not permit the payment of SSI or SSDI benefits to someone who is incarcerated in a jail or prison.

If a judge holds you in contempt for failing to pay child support and sends you to jail, your SSI or SSDI benefits are suspended for the period of confinement. There is no suspension of benefits if a judge sentences you to confinement at home instead of jail. Speak to an SSDI lawyer for clarification about how this may relate to your particular situation.

How to avoid the consequences of a contempt of court charge?

A disability that affects your ability to work probably changes your financial circumstances enough to allow you to ask the court that ordered the payment of child support and eventually held you in contempt to modify your support obligation. It requires a court hearing where your lawyer presents evidence showing how your financial circumstances have changed.

The rules vary from state to state on the circumstances that legally justify a modification or suspension of a child support order, so ask your SSDI or SSI lawyer for more information about the laws in your state. Depending on the facts in your particular situation, a judge may remove the contempt of court charges. Removal of contempt charges may be conditioned on the filing of a judgment against you for the back child support payments that you owe, but it is up to state law to determine what a judge is authorized to do.

SSDI dependents benefits in place of child support

A child may be eligible for dependents benefits through SSDI based on a parent’s record of earnings. If you are eligible for SSDI, you may apply for dependents benefits for your children and ask a judge in state court to apply the monthly benefits toward your child support obligation or against any arrears that you owe.

How dependents benefits affect your child support obligation or arrears depends on state law. Ask your disability lawyer to review your disability claim to determine if your children are eligible for benefits through your earnings record.

Contact a disability lawyer

A disability lawyer at London Disability can be a great source of information and representation when you have a child support obligation and qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits. Call today for a free consultation.

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