I have many client’s who are confused on when child support is considered late for purposes of contempt of court proceedings. Most people read their decree literally when it says that support payments are due on the first of the month. While it is true that it is due on that date, it is not considered late until thirty days have elapsed.
The reason for this is that most people are not paid there entire months check on the first of the month. They are paid in weekly installments, on the first and fifteenth or every other Friday.
It may be easiest to show you an example:
- Donna Divorce is ordered to pay child support to Danny Divorce in the amount of $500 per month, with the first payment being ordered due and payable on September 1, 2010.
- Assume Donna is paid on the 1st and 15th of the month (semi-monhtly).
- She has submitted an employer’s order to withhold to her employer and they submit the first payment of $250 to the State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio (Attorney General’s Office) on September 1, 2010, the date she is paid.
- Obviously Donna did not get the full $500 payment on the 1st. Is she in contempt? No.
- Why? Because her employer will submit the remaining $250 on the 15th of the month completing her payments for that month.
- That is why there is a thirty day cushion.
That was an easy one. What if Donna is paid every other Friday (bi-weekly)?
- Assume her first paycheck is on September 3rd (a Friday).
- Since she is paid bi-weekly the amount that comes out of each check is $230.76. I will go over how I got that number below.
- On September 3rd her employer submits a payment to the disbursement unit of $230.76.
- They submit another payment on the 17th of September, her next paycheck date. Same amount, $230.76.
- Her next payment is not until October 1st.
- Obviously she is contempt because she only paid $461.52 for the month of September, correct? That is not correct.
- Why? Because although she may be a bit behind in September, later in the year there will be a month where she pays three time, which would catch her up. Get it?
- For instance in October she will be paid three times instead of two. For the month of September and October she should have paid $1000. She paid $461.52 for September, but in October she paid $692.28 (three paychecks that month) for a total over the two months of $1,153.80.
- Just like she was not in contempt for September, she does not get money back for September and October. Why? Because there will be a month later that she only makes two payments.
At this point you are asking yourself how one would even keep track of this. Look at it on a yearly basis because no matter how they are paid, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly, the number will all equal the same amount at the end of the year. Per our example above:
- $500 per month x 12 months = $6,000 for the year.
- $250 semi monthly (on the 1st and 15th) x 24 payments = $6,000 for the year.
- $230.76 bi-weekly (every other Friday) x 26 payment = $6,000 for the year.
- $115.38 weekly x 52 payments = $6000 for the year.
You figure the installments as follows:
- $500 a month is self explanatory.
- If a person is paid on the 1st and 15th, then they are paid twice per month. That is 24 times per year. $500 divided by two is $250.
- If person is paid bi-weekly or every other Friday, that is not two payments per month. As we have seen above, some months are three payments. Take $500 x 12 months = $6,000. Divide $6,000 by 52 weeks in a year gives you $115.38 per week. That number times two is $230.76.
- The weekly number is $115.38 as just calculated.
I hope I have not made this more confusing because I am trying to help here. Bottom line, because you do not receive the fully child support payment on the first of the month does not necessarily mean that the other side is in contempt. There is a thirty day cushion.