One of the Friend of the Court's responsibilities is to enforce the provisions of the court order regarding custody, parenting time, and child support. The Friend of the Court initiates enforcement when it becomes aware that the court order is not being followed. The most common way for the Friend of the Court to become aware of a problem is on a written complaint of 1 of the parents.

For support matters, the Friend of the Court may:
  • Initiate a show cause hearing
  • Initiate income withholding (if the support obligor has employment and is receiving pay checks)
  • Initiate the issuance of an arrest warrant if a person is in violation of a previously ordered payment plan
  • Send a delinquency notice
Show Cause
A show cause or contempt hearing is initiated when the Friend of the Court becomes aware that someone may be in violation of an order of the Court. The alleged violation may be raised by a co-parent or the Friend of the Court  In the case of child support, an account is delinquent or overdue if 1 month or more of support is unpaid. When the Friend of the Court becomes aware of the violation, it will file and serve a Petition and Order to Show Cause.

The person who is alleged to have violated the order is required to appear in court (the Petition and Order may also require the co-parent to appear. The co-parent will always be required to appear in the case of allegations of denied parenting time). The person or persons required to appear must appear in court for the hearing. If the person fails to appear as required, the most likely result is that the court will issue a bench warrant.

At the hearing, a representative from the Friend of the Court office will provide the court with a brief description of the case: who the parties are, the terms of the Court order, and the nature of the alleged violation. In the case of child support, the Friend of the Court will also provide the court with a payment history, showing charges and payments on the account. The Friend of the Court may also advise the court about prior violations and prior enforcement activities.

Parenting Time
If the show cause hearing concerns parenting time, both parties are expected to be present and to present their proofs in support of their position(s). The Friend of the Court does not advocate for either parent and does not represent either party.

The court will then hear from the person who was ordered to be at the hearing and will also allow the co-parent an opportunity to speak if he or she is present. The court will decide whether the court order has been violated. If the court finds that the order has been violated and that there is contempt, the court will then impose a sanction or remedy. The Court may:
  • Impose court costs
  • Order income withholding
  • Place the violator on civil probation
  • Require a lump sum payment
  • Require participation in a "works" program
  • Sentence the violator to jail
  • Suspend a driver's, occupational or recreational license

The court will not modify or change the amount of child support at a show cause hearing.

Be Prepared
If the contempt hearing is about non-payment of support, it is certainly a good idea to come to court prepared to make a payment that day and report current employment information. If you are unable to work due to an injury or disability, you should come prepared with written information from your doctor that states the nature of your injury/disability, the treatment plan, and the estimated return-to-work date.