When someone doesn’t pay the full amount of child support that has been ordered, one of the options for the government is to pursue an allegation of ‘contempt of court.’ This is when someone is accused of knowingly disobeying a court order. A finding by a court that someone has acted in ‘contempt of court’ can be punished with up to six months of jail for each finding of contempt.
The prosecutors will often only look at one case of underpaying child support when they bring these charges against people. They often do this without considering the total circumstances of an individual. This was the issue for Mr. Goldman’s client. His client had five children – each with a child support order. His income was less than the total he was ordered to pay for all of the kids when those orders are combined. So, there was mathematically no way for his client to pay all five support orders in full. So, the prosecutor picked one that he was not paying the full support on and prosecuted the case.
At the hearing, Mr. Goldman had his client testify about all five of the child support orders, totaled up what those required him to pay each month, had his client testify about what his monthly income was, how that money was distributed, and compared the numbers. The judge agreed that for Mr. Goldman’s client to be paying in full for some kids he would have to pay less than ordered for other kids and alternatively that for him to pay all kids something he would be paying less than ordered for all of the kids. Accordingly, Mr. Goldman’s client was found Not Guilty of Contempt of Court.