Turner v Rogers- Further Thoughts
The Supreme Court struck the right balance in this case. (See yesterday’s post summarizing the ruling.) Maryland and D.C already require essentially what the Court said was necessary in this case. Virginia does not expressly require a showing that the alleged civil contemnor lacks the ability to pay.
The Court was correct to tread very carefully in setting up any procedural hurdles in the child support collection process. Late or non-payment of child support usually causes immediate substantial financial difficulty to the custodial parent and children. The states and federal government recognize this in providing many special streamlined procedural rules and extra remedies to encourage prompt payment and facilitate collection of child support.
But there is no more fundamental right than personal liberty. And there are (especially now) child support obligors who really cannot pay what they owe.
This is an area of important competing interests that must be balanced in arriving at sound public policy. The Supreme Court struck the proper balance in the Turner case.