The Iowa Court of Appeals recently reviewed what remedies are available when aparent fails to pay child support. In John Martin Farrell v. Iowa District Court for Polk County, the Iowa Court of Appeals annuled the district court’s finding that a father was in default for failing to pay extracurricular activities but sustained a finding of contempt.

A parent refusing to pay child support or other support such as extracurricular activities (when required by the decree) is a common occurrence. In its decision, the Farrell court outlined the difference between “contempt” and “default.” If a parent “willfully” fails to pay child support on time there is a good chance s/he will be found in contempt–or willful noncompliance with a court order. There are defenses to a charge of nonpayment of support as outlined in the Farrell ruling.

A court can also find that although the payor’s behavior wasn’t willful, s/he nonetheless contravened the decree and issue a finding of default, or a technical violation. Either way, both of these may be viable options if a parent fails to pay support in a timely fashion.