Rule 1910.25-7. Indirect Criminal Contempt. Incarceration.
In addition to any other remedy available to the court, the court may order the respondent to obtain employment with income that can be verified and is subject to income attachment. If the respondent willfully fails to comply with an order to obtain such employment, the court may commit the respondent to jail upon adjudication for indirect criminal contempt, provided the respondent is afforded all of the procedural safeguards available to criminal defendants.
Parental support of children is a fundamental requirement of law and public policy. Absent an inability to maintain employment or acquire other income or assets, sanction in the form of incarceration may be imposed by the court to compel compliance and provide an incentive to obey the law. The contempt process, which should be used as a last resort, is necessary to impose coercive sanctions upon those obligors whose circumstances provide no recourse to the court to compel payment or a good faith effort to comply. Appellate opinions have made it clear that an obligor who is in civil contempt cannot be incarcerated without the present ability to fulfill the conditions the court imposes for release. However, the courts also have noted that recalcitrant obligors may be imprisoned for indirect criminal contempt if afforded the proper procedural safeguards. See Godfrey v. Godfrey, 894 A.2d 776 (Pa. Super. 2006); Hyle v. Hyle, 868 A.2d 601 (Pa. Super. 2005).
The provisions of this Rule 1910.25-7 adopted June 11, 2007, effective immediately, 37 Pa.B. 2800.
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