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Child Support Services Division



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Civil and Criminal Contempt

Civil contempt is non compliance with your court ordered support where the court can order the non-custodial parent (NCP) to pay a lump sum, scheduled payments or incarceration.

Is my case eligible for Civil Contempt?

Your case is eligible if you have not received a voluntary payment within 60 days. Voluntary payments are payments made by the NCP parent or their employer.

Am I automatically eligible for a Contempt of Court Hearing just for no payment received?

Not exactly. There are other requirements that must be met:

  • You must have an active case
  • CSSD must have a current, valid address for the NCP
  • The NCP cannot be receiving Social Security benefits for Disability
  • The NCP cannot be incarcerated
  • Your case must not be in the process of CSSD filing a motion for contempt
  • CSSD must not have reviewed your case and found it ineligible for contempt within the last 60 days

How long will CSSD take to file the Motion for Contempt?

CSSD has 60 days to review and file the motion for contempt after it is referred to the Legal Services Section. 

I have provided the non-custodial parent’s current address, but he no longer lives in DC?

In order for CSSD to file a contempt motion, the courts must have jurisdiction over the NCP. What this means is that the courts must have authority over the NCP, regardless of their location. If you provide CSSD with an out of state address, please question whether CSSD has jurisdiction for that location—if not your case may need to be an Interstate case.

I have an Interstate case that I am not receiving support?

CSSD will promptly notify the enforcing state that your case is eligible for contempt.

I have a court date and the non-custodial parent is now making payments on the child support order?

If you are receiving child support payments, CSSD will dismiss the pending motion for contempt. If the payment amount is far less than the court ordered amount, CSSD will review the case before dismissing the pending motion.

Does the case have to go to court or can we settle the contempt motion without a hearing?

You may settle out of court.  The NCP will have to provide:

  • A lump sum payment towards the arrears and current support
  • Documentation that they are disabled or otherwise unable to work
  • Documentation that they are recently unemployed through no fault of their own

What is Criminal Contempt?

A Court finding that a NCP has willfully not paid his or her child support order.

When will CSSD pursue Criminal Contempt?

A case will be reviewed for criminal contempt action:

  • Only when all other appropriate administrative enforcement actions fail to collect overdue support; and
  • The NCP has not made significant voluntary support payment’s within three months prior to the criminal contempt referral date; and
  • There is a good faith belief by the Legal Service Section that demonstrates the NCP has the ability to pay child support

What are these “Administrative Actions”?

Prior to filing for criminal contempt your case will be subject to the following enforcement actions :

  • Income Withholding 
  • Financial Institute Data Match  (FIDM)
  • Credit Reporting 
  • Federal and State Tax Refund Interception
  • Civil Contempt - (Two findings of fact, order of adjudication)
  • License Revocation
  • Contacting the NCP by phone, mail, or in-person
  • Lottery Interception
  • Worker’s Compensation Interception
  • Disability Income Withholding
  • Directories of New Hire and Quarterly Wage Searches
  • Notice Letter

When will CSSD not file a Criminal Contempt Action with the Court?

  • When the case is Arrears only
  • When the child has not emancipated and is living with the NCP
  • When the NCP is receiving TANF or SSI during the period of nonsupport and currently receiving TANF or SSI when a criminal contempt action is requested
  • When the NCP is incarcerated during the period of nonsupport or currently incarcerated when a criminal contempt was requested with no income or assets to pay support
  • When the NCP is receiving inpatient treatment in a drug or mental health program during the period of nonsupport or is currently receiving inpatient drug or mental health treatment when the criminal contempt action is requested with no income or assets to pay support
  • When the NCP has an active wage withholding order with payments
  • What action(s) will the court order when a NCP has willfully disobeyed a lawful support order?
  • A jail term not to exceed 180 days
  • Participation in a rehabilitative program
  • Acceptance of appropriate and available employment, or participation in job search and placement activities
  • Probation
  • Any other action the court may direct