Termination of Child Support and Criminal Contempt

The Facts from Trial

Success on Appeal! The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco successfully reversed a trial court’s ruling involving the termination of child support and holding Mother in criminal contempt.  This appeals case arose out of a post-decree modification and contempt action filed by Father against Mother.  Among its other findings, the trial court retroactively terminated Father’s obligation to pay child support to Mother based upon parental alienation, in addition to sentencing Mother to 30 days in the county jail on a finding of criminal contempt.  After receiving this Order, Mother retained the Law Office of Anthony W. Greco to represent her for the purpose of appealing the trial Court’s decision.

The Ruling to Terminate Child Support

In addition to initiating the appeals process, the Law Office of Anthony W. Greco obtained an Order staying the enforcement of the trial court’s decision during the pendency of the appeal.  On top of the other issues argued by our firm, the Law Office of Anthony W. Greco argued that the Trial Court’s decision was improper as Mother in this case was not provided with adequate notice of the possibility that her child support would be terminated and that she may be found in criminal contempt.  On review, the Court of Appeals agreed with this argument and REVERSED the Trial Court’s decision.

The Court of Appeals stated in their ruling that “[t]he trial court’s sua sponte modification of child support as to [the minor children] fails to meet the due process requirements of notice and opportunity to defend. . .” and, further, that “[t]he trial court erred in summarily punishing [Mother] for criminal contempt without notice and an opportunity for a hearing.”

The Appeals Court held that because Mother was not provided her due process rights, she could not defend herself.  This failure prevented the Trial Court from holding her in criminal contempt, which prevents the order of jail-time for Mother.  Further, the Appeals Court ruled that the lack of notice prevented the Trial Court from issuing their order of termination of child support.

To read the full decision of the Court of Appeals on termination of child support, Click Here.