Husband did not make maintenance and child support payments to Wife. Divorce court had ordered payments from Husband. Wife filed Petition (for Rule to Show Cause) against Husband.  Wife presented evidence of Husband’s failure to pay.

Husband took the Fifth in court. He refused to say anything. He said he would not testify. Anything could incriminate him. He had a federal criminal investigation for not paying taxes. He said nothing about Wife saying he did not pay support. He said nothing about why he should not be in contempt of the divorce court order.

The trial court entered an order. It held Husband in contempt. It set his purge amount at $1,000.  He would remain in contempt until he paid the purge amount.

The court said that Husband could not use the Fifth. Husband could not try to avoid producing evidence that he should not be held in contempt.

Husband appealed.  He argued that he was held in contempt for asserting a constitutional privilege. The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court. It held that Husband had the burden (or the job) to show the court why he should not be held in contempt.

By asserting his fifth-amendment privilege, he did not meet this burden. The trial court held him in contempt for failing to meet his burden. Not for asserting his privilege.

In re Marriage of Ray, 2014 IL App (4th) 130326.