9. Enforcement‎ > ‎

9.4 Contempt


Chapter Federal Authority
Enforcement Social Security Act
§454(20) State plan for child and spousal support
§466 (a)(15) and (d) Requirement of statutorily prescribed procedures to improve effectiveness of child support enforcement
45 CFR 303.6 Enforcement of support obligations
Subject State Authority
Subject of Chapter Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-310 Enforcement of child support
Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 4 Processed
Wyoming Child Support Enforcement Rules
Chapter 4 General Services
Policy Number Effective Date
9.4     October 1, 2010

There are two types of contempt actions – civil and criminal.  This section focuses on civil contempt.  A contempt action is not the first enforcement action taken.  In most instances, a contempt action is used in those cases where the non-custodial parent’s pay record is sporadic; the non-custodial parent is unemployed or self-employed; and/or other enforcement remedies have been ineffective.  The purpose of a contempt action is to encourage the non-custodial parent to pay his or her child support obligation by requiring the non-custodial parent to appear in District Court and explain to the judge why he or she has failed to comply with the child support order.

A contempt action is a purely judicial remedy.  In order to proceed with a contempt action in Wyoming, the District Court shall have:
  • Personal and subject matter jurisdiction;
  • A valid child support order; and
  • Appropriate service of process as defined by the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure (WRCP).
Additionally, the District CSE Office Attorney shall be prepared to prove the non-custodial parent:
  • Knew or should have known of the child support order;
  • Had the ability to comply with the child support order; and
  • Willfully failed to comply with the child support obligation.
A contempt action may be used to enforce the child support obligation, the medical support order, or both.

Policy

Criteria

In order to proceed with a contempt action, the case worker will:
  • Review the case for other enforcement remedies such as wage withholding, dunning letters, or liens.
  • Ensure the non-custodial parent’s case(s) has been submitted to all appropriate federal and state administrative enforcement remedies and that submission is not suppressed;  
  • Determine if the non-custodial parent is receiving SSI or is homeless. If so, a contempt action shall not be filed. If the action has already filed with the court, a motion to dismiss shall be filed.
  • Identify a physical address (residential or work) for service of process for the non-custodial parent,
  • File the Order to Show Cause action with the District Court; and 
  • Serve the non-custodial parent with the Motion for an Order to Show Cause along with the Affidavit in Response to Order to Show Cause Ability to Pay.  (See Affidavit in Response to Order to Show Cause Ability to Pay); and
  • Update the custodial parent and POSSE that the action has been filed.
Note:  The case manager will provide the findings of the screening for the non-custodial parent's ability to pay to the CSP Attorney.  The CSP Attorney will in turn proivde this information  to the Court.  This includes information regarding the non-custodial parent's application for disability benefits or any documented mental health issues.  

Court Hearings

Initial Hearing

During the pre-court negotiation meeting between the District CSE Office Attorney and the non-custodial parent, or at the initial Order to Show Cause hearing and based upon the evidence provided, the District Court Judge may order, or the District CSE Office Attorney and non-custodial parent may agree, to the following:
  • Contempt finding;
  • Judgment on arrears;
  • Suspension of license (driver’s, recreational, and/or professional); 
  • Enrollment in the POWER work program; 
  • Specific payment amount by a certain date; 
  • Suspended jail sentence as long as certain requirements are met; and/or
  • Incarceration until a specific payment is made.
The District Court often provides the non-custodial parent with the ability to purge himself or herself from the contempt finding by meeting certain requirements.  Those requirements include but are not limited to:
  • Payment of current support and an amount toward the arrears each month; and/or
  • Obtain employment by a certain date; and/or
  • Maintain steady employment or provide proof of employment to the District CSE Office; and/or
  • Make a specific payment by a certain date.
Subsequent Hearing

If a non-custodial parent fails to meet the requirements of the initial contempt order, the District Court may do the following:
  • Issue a bench warrant for the non-custodial parent if requested by the District CSE Office; after the arrest, the District Court will set a hearing.  
  • Require that a second contempt action to be filed with the court and served upon the non-custodial parent.

Party Represented by an Attorney

If an attorney represents a party, the District CSE Office will follow certain guidelines regarding release of information and communication with the party or attorney.  See 3.6 Confidentiality and Safeguarding Information – Release of Information and Appendix 9.A – Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel.

Cross Reference

Version Number Last Revised Date
3 June 28, 2017