Did you know that the well-traveled idea that ostriches bury their heads in the ground to hide from danger is actually totally false? Rather than just hiding and doing nothing, ostriches are actually hard at work when they put their heads in the ground. What they’re really doing, as opposed to just averting their eyes and ears from the threat outside, is diligently tending to their eggs that they’ve nested inside that hole in the ground.
When it comes to your child support obligation case, be like the real ostrich, not the mythical ostrich. Be pro-active; don’t hide from your problems. Simply sticking your head in the sand, so to speak, and pretending like your problems don’t exist is a bad idea. In a contempt case against you based on your back-owed child support, it is a terrible idea. You can lose your right to make arguments about what your child support payments should be going forward, you can have your wages garnished, you can lose your passport and you can potentially lose your freedom (and be thrown in jail.) Instead of that, reach out to an experienced family law attorney and find out what you can do to benefit yourself and your family.
D.G. was a father who had a back-owed child support problem. He was a professional basketball player who had a child with M.G., a woman who lived in Howard County. D.G. agreed in 2014 to pay the mother $4,000 in child support.
The father quickly fell behind in his payments. By 2018, he owed more than $100,000 in back child support. The mother texted the father in early 2018 about the court action she was filing and D.G. texted back to state that his address was his grandmother’s home. A few weeks later, the mother filed a petition asking the court to find the father in contempt. A summons and a copy of the mother’s petition was sent to D.G.’s grandmother’s home, although it was received by D.G.’s father.
The deadline for filing a response came and went with nothing from the father. The April 2018 hearing also came and went with no participation from the father. The judge found the father in contempt and ordered him to pay the mother $25,000 per month until the arrearage was paid off. The court set another hearing for May, where the father was required to show that he had paid the first $25,000 or that making the payment was impossible. That hearing, like the previous one, came and went with nothing from the father.
After that, the mother sought a court order through which federal authorities could take action up to taking away D.G.’s passport. As D.G. had been making a living the last several years as a basketball player playing overseas, he swiftly responded. The father’s argument was that, although he used his grandmother’s home as his mailing address he did not live there. In other words, he asserted that he was never properly served notice of the contempt case.
That approach didn’t work. The trial judge denied the father’s motion without even holding a hearing. D.G. appealed, but the appeals court upheld the trial court’s actions. There was no legal basis for overturning what the trial judge had done. In other words, D.G. remained on the hook for making the $25,000 monthly payments or else risk losing his passport and his ability to play pro basketball internationally.
What you can learn from all this is that, instead of just hiding from your legal problems, you are almost always better off attacking them head on with help of legal counsel. There are often more legal options available than you would have identified on your own. With something as basic as your freedom potentially on the line, you need the best legal representation. Contact experienced Maryland family law attorney Anthony A. Fatemi, who can offer you the benefit of his many years of handling a full array of family law cases, including child support and child support contempt actions. To learn more, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.