In this difficult economy, many parents are having trouble making child support payments. But the difficult economy makes it even harder for parents who count on receiving child support to provide for their children if payments are not made. The vicious cycle has led some authorities to move in the direction of more punishment for failure to pay child support, including jail time.
It has been established since the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963 that criminal defendants facing the possibility of going to jail must be provided with an attorney if they cannot afford one. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court had to decide whether the Constitution requires the same protection for civil defendants in contempt hearings for failure to pay child support.