NJ: Criminal Contempt Proceedings Have Their Perks for Non-Paying Parents

Not surprisingly, many parents who allegedly default in their child support obligations don’t have the money to hire a lawyer to defend them at enforcement and / or civil contempt proceedings.

So, like it or not, they often defend themselves at these hearings on a pro se basis, a lawyer’s term for representing yourself.

According to a New Jersey Star Ledger article, when the circumstances are severe enough to warrant criminal contempt proceedings, the allegedly delinquent parent should get a bonus: free legal representation from a court-appointed attorney.

Ironically, this reported holding may have an unintended and counter-intuitive impact: custodial parents may now favor the civil remedy and non-custodial parents may now actually favor the criminal remedy.