“Findings of Fact” don’t explain, why I’m in contempt of order to pay $300 per month toward arrears. Options?
Plantiff (ex-spouse) over-stated how much I was in arrears. So, the Magistrate reported in her Findings of Fact that I was in arrears by $10,000 in Oct 2017, then 6 months later, the arrears was $4,000. Despite that, I was found in contempt for NOT paying $300 a month toward arrears. No other specific financial information was listed in Findings of Fact. My arrears is currently around $2,200. The court doesn’t seem to either want or have access to Child Support payment information. So far, the Court has relied on 2nd hand info, supplied by plaintiff/ex-spouse and not information with the Office of Child Support. What can I do?
: It is the Plaintiff’s burden to show that you did not pay the court ordered amount. However, you should begin to save proof that you did pay the correct amount each month in order to defend yourself. The Magistrate may rely on Plaintiff’s testimony, but I assume you have cancelled checks or some other accounting to show you paid.
If the Magistrate erred as a matter of law or most of the evidence was contrary to her findings, you can take exceptions to the Findings and have a hearing before a Judge. To do that, you must order a transcript of the Magistrate Hearing and file your written exemptions within 10 days of the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation. In your written Exception, you must specify how the Magistrate got it wrong and why she got it wrong as a matter of law. Then the court will schedule an Exception Hearing approximately 45 days later. At that hearing, you argue before the judge and site to the transcript all of the evidence that supports your argument and how that evidence outweighs the Magistrate’s recommendation. That being said, this is very difficult and it is unlikely that you will prevail. If you wish to go forward it is imperative that you have a strong advocate who knows the Circuit Court for our county. It is probably well worth the investment to get a paid consultation with an attorney who can examine the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation with you.