OCSE Guidance on the Turner v. Rogers Decision

Date: September 17, 2012
Author(s): Jacquelyn Boggess

The Action Transmittal clearly states and frequently reiterates the importance of procedural due process for unrepresented defendants in child support contempt proceedings. And it is clear from the OCSE guidance that while the Supreme Court decision does not prohibit contempt proceedings or incarceration, child support agencies should carefully screen and individually review cases to determine “actual and present ability to comply.”

However, there remains an important unresolved question of how, in practice, civil contempt proceedings may continue to serve as “a procedural mechanism to order a noncustodial parent to participate in programs or take advantage of other services as an alternative to incarceration.”