(CN) – A father who quit his job as a corrections officer and joined a religious commune cannot escape child-support payments, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled.
Shirley Ritchie Shippen sued husband John Lee Shippen for child custody, support and alimony. The trial court ordered John to pay Shirley $1,106 per month. When he failed to do so, the court found him in contempt.
John quit his job and joined a religious group called the Twelve Tribes of Israel, which provides communal living and bars its members from earning outside income.
John appealed the contempt order, arguing that he was following his beliefs and could not pay $6,290 to purge the contempt order.
But the state appeals court denied the appeal.
“Defendant did not quit his job and join a religious community until after entry of the support order,” Judge Wanda Bryant wrote. “That defendant’s religious beliefs are sincerely held, as the trial court found, is irrelevant.”