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Video Transcribed: Enforcing a child support obligation through a contempt of court in Oklahoma. I’m Oklahoma attorney James Wirth and we’re about to talk about how to collect child support through contempt.
So there’s a lot of different ways that you can collect child support in Oklahoma and some are better in different circumstances.
So if you’ve got somebody that’s working at a job and going through payroll, first thing you probably want to do is get an income assignment, garnish that.
If you’ve got somebody who’s not regularly working, the next best thing is probably going to be a contempt citation, it’s good where you have somebody local.
If the order’s in Oklahoma and they’re in Oklahoma, that’s great. If the order’s here in Oklahoma, you’re in Oklahoma trying to enforce it, but they’re living in Hawaii, that can be more difficult through contempt.
So we want to talk about that, but if they’re here, they’re not paying child support contempt is a great way to do it, particularly in Tulsa County. I’ll talk about that.
So contempt proceedings in Tulsa County, when it’s child support, they go on a special docket just for collecting child support.
The judges on that docket are generally pretty strict about it, and that docket moves faster than other court dockets and other contempt dockets.
So they call it the rocket docket. Generally speaking, if you file for child support contempt, you can have the person’s arraignment in about 30 days and their trial and about 60 days, which is very fast.
And when we’re talking about a contempt of court, all you have to do is, prove that there’s an order in place, that they knew about the obligation, they had the ability to pay and they didn’t pay.
So if those things are proven they can be found guilty of contempt, and that is a quasi-criminal offense, that has up to six months imprisonment upon conviction and a fine of up to $500.
So most of the time I can tell you that deals are worked out to where one that’s set for trial, most of the time it’s worked out on a deal to where the person that’s supposed to be paying child support plea of no contest or guilty.
The court essentially stays a six month sentence to keep them from going to jail and then it sets it for reviews.
And then between now and the review date, they have to pay not only their current child support obligation, but some amount that’s determined on their based on a plea deal.
And then you keep setting it for reviews and they keep paying either until they get caught up, or if they’re not paying until they go into custody, they go to jail. In which case you can request that a purge fee be set for the total amount outstanding.
So if they owe $10,000 in back support and they don’t pay and they go into custody, the purge amount is going to be set at 10,000 and they can serve a up to a six month sentence in jail, or they can get that $10,000 paid by some means in order to get out.
Sometimes the judge will lower that purge amount or let them out for compassionate reasons, but it can still be a very good way to collect child support if you’ve got somebody who’s not paying it, isn’t working regularly and is generally being difficult.
If you’ve got questions on how a contempt proceeding might work in your case, or what other child support enforcement options you might have, need to talk to an attorney, you can contact somebody at my office by going to makelaweasy.com. Again, that is makelaweasy.com.