FEIOCK memorandum

FEIOCK memorandum - ACTING ON BEHALF OF ALTA SUE FEIOCK...

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ACTING ON BEHALF OF ALTA SUE FEIOCK, PETITIONER V. PHILLIP WILLIAM FEIOCK No. 86-787 In the Supreme Court of the United States October Term, 1986 On Writ of Certiorari to the Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioner TABLE OF CONTENTS [email protected]@ Question presented Interest of the United States Statement Summary of Argument Argument: In a civil contempt proceeding, the Due Process Clause permits a state to require that the defendant demonstrate his inability to comply with a previous court order A. The court of appeal erred in treating the instant civil contempt proceeding as if, for purposes of the Due Process Clause, it were a criminal prosecution B. It does not offend due process to place the burden on a civil contemnor to show a current inability to comply with a court order directing payment of child support Conclusion QUESTION PRESENTED In civil contempt proceedings for nonpayment of court-ordered child support, California law provides that prima facie evidence of contempt is established by proof that the delinquent parent had notice of the child-support order and failed to comply with it. The question presented is whether this California statute violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by shifting to the delinquent parent the burden to show a current inability to pay. INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES The issue in this case is whether, in a civil contempt proceeding to compel payment of court-ordered child support, states may provide that formal notice of the support order and proof of noncompliance therewith constitute prima facie evidence of contempt, thereby placing the burden on the delinquent parent to show a current inability to comply with the support order. The California Court of Appeal has held that such a burden-shifting provision violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The United States has a strong interest in the states' being allowed to employ such burden-shifting provisions to facilitate the collection of child-support payments from recalcitrant parents who
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defy valid court orders. Nonpayment of child support is a problem of national dimensions, causing a steady drain on federal resources devoted to social welfare programs. Over $3 billion in child support goes unpaid each year, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that at least one-third of this sum, or more than $1 billion annually, ultimately comes out of the budget of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. The AFDC program, which Congress established in 1935 (Social 601-676), is designed to provide financial assistance to needy families with children who have been deprived of parental care or support by the death, incapacity or "continued absence from the home" of a parent (42 U.S.C. (& Supp. III) 606(a)). About half of each AFDC payment is paid by the recipient's state;
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FEIOCK memorandum - ACTING ON BEHALF OF ALTA SUE FEIOCK...

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