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Contempt proceedings

The child support office can ask the court to find a parent in contempt of court if he or she has the ability to pay the child support obligation, but is intentionally not paying.

The child support office can pursue a contempt action if all of the following are true. The non-custodial parent:

  • Owes support according to an order or decree for support
  • Owes court-ordered child support or maintenance with a past due amount, also called arrears, totaling at least three times their total monthly obligation
  • Is not complying with a written payment plan approved by the court or the child support office.

The court can order the parent to serve a jail sentence if found in contempt. The parent can avoid the jail sentence if the parent meets certain conditions.


The child support agency will not pursue contempt action if any of the following are true:

  • The case does not meet the criteria
  • A court order prohibits contempt proceedings
  • The parent who owes support is institutionalized, incarcerated or otherwise incapacitated and unable to pay.


State laws can be found on the Minnesota Office of the Revisor website.

  • Minnesota Statutes, section 518A.72
  • Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 588
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