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.
In order to proceed with a contempt action, the case worker shall:
Determine if the non-custodial parent is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). If the action has already been filed with the court, a motion to dismiss shall be filed.
Do not file a contempt action if the case worker has information that the non-custodial parent is homeless. If the action has already been filed with the court, a motion to dismiss shall be filed.
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;
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 provide this information to the Court. This includes information regarding the non-custodial parent's application for disability benefits or any documented mental health issues.
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:
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.
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.
Last Revised Date
November 15, 2017