February 2019 | No. 2017-CA, 00973-COA (Ms. Ct. App. 2019)

Wilkinson v. Wilkinson (Mississippi 2019)

A prima facie case for contempt in a child support case is made once a parent entitled to support shows the other parent has not paid. Then, the burden of proof shifts to the paying parent to defend the nonpayment. The parents divorced, and support was set in the decree. They reconciled for a period of time, but broke up again. After the break up, the father stopped paying support and filed to modify custody. The mother counterclaimed for contempt for failure to pay support. The father argued he was overpaid because he supported the child during the reconciliation period above and beyond the amount he failed to pay. The chancery court found him in contempt, and he appealed. The appellate court agreed with the chancery court’s reasoning that no support was due while the parents were in a de-facto marriage. Once that relationship was over, support was due. The father showed no evidence of his inability to pay the support order.

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