The purpose of the arraignment is for the judge to explain the proceedings to the obligor and advise the obligor of his or her rights. These rights include the right to counsel, including appointed counsel if the obligor is indigent, and the right to a jury or non-jury trial.
Depending on the way the court handles the docket, the judge may or may not explain these rights to the obligor. If the judge does not explain the rights, Child Support Services (CSS) staff reviews the Acknowledgment of Notice of Rights on Civil Contempt Citation (CC9) with the obligor to be sure he or she understands the proceedings and his or her rights. The obligor signs the acknowledgment and it is filed in the court file, unless the court orders otherwise.
The following is a general overview of the process in most counties. The way the docket is handled is up to the specific judge, so there may be some differences in your county; however, these are the basic steps of the process.
- The obligor should be advised of his or her right to counsel and asked if he or she wants an attorney. CSS communicates with the court regarding the obligor’s request for appointment of counsel if the obligor indicates he or she wants a court-appointed attorney. If the obligor requests counsel, CSS should not proceed until the court rules on the issue.
- The obligor may plead “not guilty” and ask for a jury or non-jury trial. In these cases, a trial date is set. Usually the court allows the obligor to remain out of custody pending trial, but may require an appearance bond be posted. If the obligor fails to appear, the bond may be disbursed to CSS to apply to the child support arrearage. The court may also require a jury fee to be paid if the obligor requests a jury trial.
- The obligor may waive his or her rights, ask to plead guilty, and agree to purge conditions.
- In this case, either the specialist or the State’s Attorney will work out the purge conditions with the obligor and complete the Judgment on Child Support Contempt Citation (CC2) (Judgment on Contempt). Be sure the obligor understands the order and signs it, indicating his or her understanding and agreement to the terms.
- Some counties may also complete the Waiver of Rights on Contempt (CC3) and have the obligor sign it. The signed document is filed with the court.
- The order is entered and the obligor is given a date to come back for a review of compliance with the purge conditions.
- Depending on the terms of the order and the court’s procedure, the obligor may not be required to appear for subsequent hearings or reviews if the payments are made as agreed. Consult the State’s Attorney for the procedure used in your district courts.