Contempt

A person who does not follow a court's order and has no valid excuse for not doing so may be found in contempt of court.  One of the enforcement tools the Child Support Program uses is filing petitions for contempt against non-custodial parents who do not pay child support as ordered.

Before a person can be found in contempt of court, they must be served with notice that they are being cited for contempt.  They must also be notified about the specific order of the court that they allegedly violated.  Once a person is served with notice, the court will hold a hearing and advise the person of their rights and the possible consequences of being found in contempt. 

If you are cited with contempt for failure to pay child support as ordered, you have the right to hire an attorney to represent you.  If there is a possibility that you might be sent to jail as a result of being found in contempt, and you can show evidence to the court that you cannot afford an attorney, you will have an attorney appointed to represent you at little or no charge.  

If, after a hearing, the court finds you in contempt for violating an order without just cause, the court will order you to do certain things to correct the violation, or "purge" yourself of contempt.  Courts have wide discretion in what they can order in these situations.  Typical contempt sanctions in child support cases include being ordered: (1) to pay an additional sum each week to catch up on past-due child support; (2) to apply for employment; (3) to cooperate with WorkOne or another similar agency that will assist you in finding employment; (4) to pay a lump sum toward past-due child support by a certain date; (5) to perform unpaid community service; (6) to participate in a community corrections program designed to help you find employment; (7) to return to court at periodic intervals to show that you are paying child support as ordered; (8) to sell or mortgage property and apply the proceeds to past-due child support; etc. 

Writs

A writ of body attachment is a court order to the Sheriff to arrest a person and hold them in custody.  The court will often issue a writ if a party who was ordered to attend a court hearing fails to show up.  Usually, when the Court issues a writ, it will set a bond amount that the person can pay in order to be released immediately.  If the person is arrested and pays the bond, the money will be applied to past-due child support.

Once a person is arrested on a writ, they will be given a hearing before the judge who issued the writ.  At the hearing, the person will have the chance to explain to the judge why he or she did not show up in court as ordered.  The judge then has the discretion to release the person from custody or order them to return to jail. 

The Child Support Program has no authority to issue writs or to cancel them.  The Child Support Program also has no authority to release someone from jail who has been arrested on a writ.  If you wish to have a writ cancelled, or to be released from jail after having been arrested on a writ, you must make your request to the court that issued the writ.  

Jail

After other sanctions have failed to get a person to comply with a court order, the court may order that person to be incarcerated.  The person will be handcuffed in the courtroom immediately after the hearing and transported by a Sheriff's deputy to the Noble County Jail.  Typically, a sentence of incarceration will be for a few weeks or months.  It will include a recommendation for the person to transfer to Work Release, if eligible.  It will also include a bond, or sum of money that the person can pay at any time during the jail sentence in order to be released immediately.  If the incarcerated person pays the bond, that money will be applied to past-due child support.  

Sometimes, before the court orders a person to be incarcerated, it will issue a sentence of suspended incarceration.  This means that the person can avoid going to jail by complying with court orders from that day forward.  If the person still doesn't comply after a period of time set by the court, it may execute the suspended sentence and order the person to jail.

As with writs, the Child Support Program has no authority to put a person in jail, or to get a person released from jail.

Role of the Noble County Child Support Office in Tax Intercepts 

If a non-custodial parent has accumulated an arrearage on his or her child support order, all or part of his or her Federal and State income tax refunds may be intercepted and applied to the child support arrearage.

Our office notifies the Internal Revenue Service and Indiana Department of Treasury of non-custodial parents who owe child support arrears and the amounts of those arrears.  That is the only role we play in tax intercepts, however.   Our office does not participate in the interception or the distribution of the refund.  Those actions are controlled exclusively by the Internal Revenue Service and Indiana Department of Treasury, working with the Indiana Child Support Bureau.  

Our office does not have access to information about whether tax refunds will be intercepted, when they will be intercepted, to whom the money will be distributed, or when it will be distributed.  In addition, we cannot discuss tax refunds or interceptions with anyone other than the taxpayer.  This means we cannot provide any information to the custodial parent about the non-custodial parent's tax refunds.

Federal Tax Intercept

To be subject to the interception of a Federal tax refund, a non-custodial parent must have accumulated an arrearage of at least $150, for cases in which there is money owed to the state, or $500, for cases in which all of the arrears is owed to the custodial parent.  

State Tax Intercept

To be subject to the interception of an Indiana tax refund, a non-custodial parent must have accumulated an arrearage of at least $150, regardless of whether the money is owed to the state or to the custodial parent.

Notification

A non-custodial parent will receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service prior to the interception of a federal tax refund.  The non-custodial parent will receive a notice from the Indiana Department of Revenue prior to the interception of a state tax refund.  This notice alerts the non-custodial parent to the fact that he or she has accumulated a child support arrearage sufficient to subject him or her to the interception of tax refunds.   The notice will contain the identification of the child support case and the amount of arrears owed.  

If a non-custodial parent's tax refund is larger than the amount of child support arrears owed at the time the refund is intercepted, only the amount needed to satisfy the child support arrearage will be kept by the Child Support Bureau, and the remainder will be refunded to the non-custodial parent.  If the non-custodial parent does not owe any child support arrears by the time the tax refund is intercepted, the entire amount will be refunded to the non-custodial parent.

Holds

Usually, a hold is placed on intercepted federal tax refunds once they are received by the Child Support Bureau in Indianapolis.  This hold can last up to five months.  Sometimes a tax refund that has been intercepted and is on hold will be recalled by the IRS to pay another obligation, such as back taxes owed by the non-custodial parent.