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Contempt order in child support case was supported by the record

Michelle L. Steele & State of Wisconsin v. Jason G. Foster, 2014AP1947, District 3, 7/31/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The circuit court’s held Foster in contempt for failing to comply with the court’s child support payment order. While the circuit court’s findings of fact in support of its contempt order were “lacking” (¶19), the record overall supports the contempt order.

¶20      During the eight-month period from January 2013 to August 2013, Foster met his required child support payment only once, in February. Foster’s arrearage obligation was met only in the two months in which the government intercepted his taxes. While Foster claims he reasonably believed he could average the total of several months to determine whether he was in contempt, we observe that the tax intercepts, which are clearly applied only to past-due payments rather than current support,.. occurred in February and May. Therefore, even if the circuit court accepted Foster’s reasoning, he was undeniably in contempt for failing to make his monthly obligation in January and April, at the very least, when no surplus from the tax intercept would have satisfied Foster’s child support obligation. In addition, Foster’s January 2013 payment of $263.45 was made less than one month after he was found in contempt in December 2012, at which time his support obligations were explicitly clarified. This is sufficient to show clear, willful noncompliance with a court order….

The court of appeals also rejects Foster’s due process challenge to the affidavit supporting the order to show cause why he shouldn’t be held in contempt:

¶11      …. The affidavit submitted by the Agency informed Foster that its records indicated he had failed to comply with the court order for support. The order to show cause specified a reasonable time, as well as the place at which Foster would need to appear to show cause as to why he should not be found in contempt. It further instructed him about the documentation he needed to provide the Agency before the hearing, including[:] a copy of his tax returns for the last two years; a wage statement from his employer for the eight weeks immediately preceding the date of the hearing; statements of unemployment or disability he was currently receiving; a completed financial disclosure form; and a statement of any other income that he receives. Foster was therefore on notice of when and where he should appear to offer proof about his alleged failure to pay child support as required by the prior court order. In addition, Foster provides no argument about evidence he failed to produce as a result of any deficiency in the order to show cause or supporting affidavit. This notice did not violate Foster’s due process rights.

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