Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Opinion Digests / Domestic Relations / Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Support – Contempt – Willfulness

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Support – Contempt – Willfulness

Where the trial court’s contempt order said the defendant-father’s failure to pay child support was “without justifiable excuse,” it doesn’t matter that the order failed to use the word “willful” or any of its derivations.

We affirm the trial court’s order holding defendant in contempt.

Defendant takes issue with one of the trial court’s findings about unreimbursed medical expenses because the plaintiff-mother used an out-of-network medical provider, which increased defendant’s out-of-pocket expenses. However, the trial court’s child support order does not make defendant’s obligation to reimburse plaintiff contingent on the use of an in-network medical provider.

Defendant testified that paying $711 in child support would render him homeless. However, during the relevant period, defendant received between $3,220 and $4,300 per month in compensation. Defendant was employed by a manufacturing company, pursuing a degree in engineering, and leasing an apartment with a monthly rent of $900.

The evidence supports the trial court’s findings that defendant had the means to pay $711 per month in child support and that defendant had failed to provide any adequate explanation for paying no child support for the preceding 11 months.

The trial court’s findings sufficiently address defendant’s willfulness as they establish that defendant had the ability to comply with the child support order on the day of the hearing and that his failure to do so was deliberate and intentional. Defendant’s testimony that he disagreed with this child support order is also evidence of a stubborn resistance that our appellate courts have found instructive in determining whether a defendant has willfully disobeyed a court order.


Whitmore v. Whitmore (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-145-18, 13 pp.) (Hunter Murphy, J.) Appealed from Camden County District Court (Edgar Barnes, J.) Richard Croutharmel for defendant. N.C. App. Unpub.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *