Q: Is failure to pay child support ordered by a judge a criminal contempt of court or just contempt of court?
Family Court judges have the authority to hold someone in either civil contempt or criminal contempt. Whether a finding of contempt is civil or criminal depends on whether the person who violated the order is able to "purge" themselves of the punishment by becoming compliant with the order.
For example, if the payor owes $1,000 in past due child support, the Family Court may hold them in contempt and send them to jail until they have "purged" the contempt by paying the $1,000 (plus court costs). This would be civil contempt.
For criminal contempt, the contemnor is sanctioned with a set penalty that cannot be changed, regardless of their behavior.
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