Contempt – conditional discharge – published opinion from Ky Court of Appeals

Jar of Change

C.C. v. Commonwealth of Kentucky Ex Rel S.B.

Trial Court revoked a conditional discharge of Father’s contempt sentence for failure to pay child support. On appeal, Father argued that the Trial Court erred when it denied his request to continue the final contempt hearing at which Father did not appear, by revoking the conditional discharge in Father’s absence, not setting an amount by which Father could purge his contempt, and failing to determine Father’s failure to pay was willful.

The Court of Appeals upheld the Trial Court’s decision. The Court found that Father had opportunity to request a purge amount, but failed to do so, and waived the right to present the defense he was unable to pay through no fault of his own when he admitted contempt. Additionally, the Court held that although the Court is required to inquire into reasons for failure to pay child support before the Court may revoke a conditional discharge based upon failure to pay, the Court is not required to imagine such reasons do exist “if the party charged with the violating conditions fails to assert proof of bona fide attempts to pay or fails to explain why his nonpayment was not willful.” Finally, the Court found that revocation of the conditional discharge was not a critical stage in the proceedings at which Father had a right to be present.

Digested by: Emily T. Cecconi