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Burden of Proof Trial Court Proceedings for Civil Contempt

See CSQuest article Civil Contempt Legal Authority.

Court proceedings may be discontinued at any time at the State’s Attorney’s discretion.

In order to meet its burden of proof, Child Support Services (CSS) must prove each of the elements of civil contempt by clear and convincing evidence. After offering the evidence, the State’s Attorney requests a finding of guilt, a judgment for past due support, and, when appropriate, a license revocation or probation order.

At trial, Child Support Services (CSS) attempts to prove that the obligor is guilty of civil contempt for non-payment of child support, while the obligor is given an opportunity to present a defense. The court rules on the civil contempt based on the evidence presented.

Oklahoma law requires establishment of the following facts in order to make a prima facie case for contempt.CSS has the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence the following elements:

  1. The order was made, filed, and served on the obligor or the obligor’s attorney; or
  2. The obligor had actual knowledge of the existence of the order; or
  3. The order was granted by default after prior due process notice to the obligor; or
  4. The obligor was present in court at the time the order was pronounced; and
  5. Noncompliance with the order.

Once CSS has made a prima facie case, the State’s Attorney requests a:

  • Finding of guilt for willful failure to pay child support or judgment payments;
  • Judgment for past due support; and
  • License revocation or probation order, when appropriate.

The obligor must show that the failure to pay was not willful in order to be found not guilty of contempt.

“Prima facie” means “sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted.” Prima Facie, LEGALINFORMATION INSTITUTE, Jan. 28, 2013.