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Review and Research Screening Process for Civil Contempt

The screening process should be used to gather information regarding the obligor’s past and present ability to pay support. The purpose of the screening process is to determine if there is enough information to move forward with a contempt action:

  1. Was the non-payment willful, that is, did the obligor have the ability to pay the ordered support during the contempt time period?
  2. Does the obligor have the present ability to purge the contempt?

Document information gathered on the Contempt Screening Checklist, which is then given to the State’s Attorney for legal review.

Review obligor’s income and assets information using the following OSIS screens:

  • FCRL for information based on the obligor’s name, social security number, and date of birth;
  • OWL and OWC for income information that may not be listed on the FCRL screen; and OTCI or IRSI for new addresses for the obligor if he or she has filed state or federal tax returns.

Review the following resources to obtain information including, but not limited to:

  • Family Assistance/Client Service (FACS) for case notes regarding assets, sources of income, or information on potential disabilities; and
  • Oklahoma State Court Network (OSCN)and On Demand Court Records (ODCR)for addresses, orders we may not be aware of that affect the child support case, and other cases pending, including criminal actions and civil lawsuits, bonds posted, and pauper’s affidavits.

After gathering information as described above, determine if contempt is appropriate. Contempt is not an appropriate remedy when:

  • There is evidence the obligor is disabled and cannot work (e.g. state or federal disability benefits, disability insurance payments, medical documentation);
  • The obligor has been in jail or prison with no income or assets during the entire period when the past support was due; or
  • The obligor has received means-tested government benefits (e.g. TANF/SSI) during the entire period when the past support was due.

You may determine that a modification action is appropriate in conjunction with or instead of filing a contempt action in the following situations:

  • The support amount appears to be too high based upon a review of the income and asset information from OSIS screens and caselog. Review the order and initiate a motion to modify; or
  • The obligor has multiple cases and may not be able to meet the support obligation for all of the cases. Review the CLAP screen for multiple cases and contact other offices to determine if the total obligation (current support and judgment payment) under all the orders appears to be inappropriate. Work together with other offices on modification if appropriate.

Contempt may still be appropriate if you find the obligor has willfully failed to pay in the past and still has the present ability to purge.

Also refer to this Contempt Screening Checklist.