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Bench Warrant Court Proceedings for Civil Contempt

Sometimes an obligor may be formally excused from appearing in court, for example:

  • Based on the terms of the prior order,
  • When a continuance is signed prior to the hearing date, or
  • When the obligor is paying as ordered per a “pay or appear” order.

If the obligor is not excused from appearing and fails to appear either for arraignment or for any other hearing for which he or she has been ordered to reappear, CSS requests a Bench Warrant (CC4) for failure to appear when there is proper service.

Once the court authorizes a bench warrant, prepare the following documents, depending on local practice:

  • Contempt Failure to Appear Order(CC10);
  • Bench Warrant (CC4); and
  • Investigator Sheet (G04).

The completed documents are usually served by the sheriff. The process varies from county to county. Some offices may have an investigator who serves warrants and picks up obligors.

The court sets an appearance bond amount, usually either a standard bond amount used in that county or the purge amount requested in the Citation for Contempt section of the Contempt Pleading Packet (CC1). Usually the bond is set as a “cash only bond.” The Bench Warrant (CC4) may state both a bond amount and the purge amount to satisfy the contempt. Consult your State’s Attorney for guidance on the local district court’s requirement.

If the obligor is picked up on the Bench Warrant (CC4) and does not pay the appearance bond or purge fee amount, the court usually arranges to have the obligor brought before the judge. If this does not occur, a court date should be set for the obligor’s appearance. At the appearance, the court may:

  • Order the obligor to remain in custody pending trial;
  • Release the obligor on his or her own recognizance; or
  • Approve the parties’ agreement for a lower cash bond for release.

If the obligor is picked up on the bench warrant and pays the appearance bond or purge fee, CSS may file a Motion to Disburse Bond or Purge Fee (CC6) and request the fee be paid to CSS to satisfy the child support obligation. If a cash bond was posted by someone other than the obligor, that person may need to sign paperwork with the Court Clerk to consent to have the bond applied to the child support obligation or the Court may set the matter for hearing.

Legal Authority
See: Civil Contempt Legal Authority