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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Statutes: District of Columbia

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April 5, 2024

§ 46-225.02. Criminal contempt remedy for failure to pay child support.

(a) The Mayor or a party who has a legal claim to child support may initiate a criminal contempt action for failure to pay the support by filing a motion in the civil action in which the support order was established.

(b)(1) Upon a finding by the Court that an obligor has willfully failed to obey a lawful support order, the Court may:

(A) Commit the obligor to jail for a term not to exceed 180 days;

(B) Order the obligor to participate in a rehabilitative program, if the Court determines that participation would assist the obligor in complying with the support order and access to such program is available;

(C) Order the obligor to accept appropriate available employment or participate in job search and placement activities; or

(D) Place the obligor on probation under such conditions as the Court may determine and in accordance with the provisions of the criminal procedure law.

(2) The Court may direct that an obligor’s commitment may be served upon certain specified days or parts of days. The Court may suspend all or part of a sentence and may, at any time within the term of the sentence, revoke the suspension and commit the obligor for the remainder of the original sentence. A period of commitment shall not prevent the Court from committing the obligor for a subsequent failure to comply with a support order.

(3) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection, the term “rehabilitative program” shall include work preparation and skill programs, non-residential alcohol and substance abuse programs, and educational programs.

(c) The Court shall order the obligor to pay the petitioner’s attorney’s fees as well as court costs, unless good cause can be demonstrated on the record against this result.

(d) For purposes of this section, failure to pay child support, as ordered, shall constitute prima facie evidence of a willful violation. This presumption may be rebutted if the obligor was incarcerated, hospitalized, or had a disability during the period of nonsupport. These circumstances do not constitute an exhaustive list of circumstances that may be used to rebut the presumption of willfulness.

(e) The Court shall not deny a request for relief pursuant to this section unless the facts and circumstances constituting the reasons for its determination are set forth in a written memorandum of decision.