I am going to court on contempt because I am refusing to pay for daycare costs. The reason is I do not feel my children are safe at the daycare provider my ex wife picked. Will I still be forced to pay or do I have any say in the provider she chooses?
If there is an order requiring you to pay daycare costs, then you probably will be required to pay those expenses or face contempt sanctions. Similarly, if you and your ex share custody, you probably also have a say in the daycare provider. So the answer to both questions may be yes. However, each state has its own standards and guidelines. I do not practice in Missouri, so I cannot advise you on the specific statutes that may affect your case.
Typically, “daycare expenses” are an aspect of child support, but different from the general support orders that may or may not be ordered in addition. The order likely requires you to either pay the daycare provider directly or reimburse your ex for your share of the daycare expenses. Without further provisions, such as mutual consent on the daycare provider, withholding payment is very likely contemptuous because you are intentionally disobeying a court order. Contempt sanctions can include monetary fines, reimbursement of costs and attorney fees, and even jail time.
While you may be ordered to pay daycare expenses, you may also have a say in which day care the children attend. Custody is decision making authority, and it is very common that courts order joint custody. Joint custody gives parents equal authority in making major decisions in their child’s life. If parents cannot agree on a decision, the court will then decide which parent should make the decision if a motion is filed. Custody is independent from placement, which is where the children spend their time.
The court will probably also inquire about the steps you have taken to resolve this issue and whether they are reasonable. I would be prepared to explain exactly why you feel the children are not safe at the daycare provider, what actions you have taken to protect their safety, what alternative daycare providers you propose, and whether you have communicated this to your ex. You likely need to take initiative to change the daycare provider by filing your own motion to have the issue addressed.
The possible outcome of your contempt hearing is dependent on the specific orders in your case, the facts surrounding your decisons, and the laws in your jurisdiction. I do not practice in Missouri, so I cannot inform you as to the state’s specific laws. Cordell & Cordell has attorneys that are licensed and located in Missouri, and they would be happy to discuss your case with you.
Angela Foy is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisc., office of Cordell & Cordell where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Foy is licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Ms. Foy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She then continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Marquette University.