Does a judge have to send a delinquent spousal support payor to prison?

No, contempt sanctions are "discretionary," meaning that the judge can determine the particular punishment on a case-by-case basis. Some judges are quite harsh and will send a delinquent payor of spousal support to jail, while others are reluctant to. Some judges believe there are other measures to take instead of prison, due to the fact that paying support from prison, will be rather difficult. Some judges may issue a considerable amount of community service, especially when the delinquent support payments are a result of a lack of funds to pay the support. It would not make sense to fine an individual a substantial amount of money if he or she does not even have the money to pay the back due support.