Are Fewer Noncustodial Parents Being Threatened with Jail in Your Community?

Author: CFFPP . Date: August 2, 2012

If you work with noncustodial parents who owe child support, CFFPP would like to request your reply to the following questions:

  • Are fewer noncustodial parents being threatened with jail time for non-payment of child support in your community?
  • Have you seen changes, either positive or negative, in the last year regarding child support enforcement’s use of the threat of incarceration?
  • Has your local child support agency contacted your organization, program, or the parents you work with, about changes regarding the threat of jail time?

Please send your responses to the above questions by email to Nino Rodriguez, CFFPP’s program and policy specialist, at

One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Turner v. Rogers, holding that states must have procedural safeguards in place to determine whether or not an unrepresented parent, threatened with civil contempt and jail time for not paying child support, in fact has the ability to pay. CFFPP’s co-director Jacquelyn Boggess has written analysis of Turner both before the case was heard and after the decision.

The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), recently issued guidance to state child support enforcement agencies recommending new procedures before a noncustodial parent is threatened with jail time. In summary, these recommendations are:

  • “Cases Should Be Individually Reviewed … Before Referring or Initiating Civil Contempt Proceedings that Can Lead to Incarceration”
  • “The Individual Review Should Examine Actual and Present Ability to Comply”
  • “Notice Should Be Provided to the Obligor that ‘Ability to Pay’ is a Critical Issue in the Contempt Proceeding”
  • “Judicial Procedures Should Provide an Opportunity to Be Heard on the Issue of Ability to Pay and Result in Express Court Findings”

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