Hunter Biden has been ordered to appear in an Arkansas court next month to face questions about his financial status and defend himself against contempt allegations that could carry a penalty of up to six months in jail.
The Monday order from Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Holly Meyer came weeks after Lunden Alexis Roberts, the mother of Biden’s four-year-old daughter, asked the court to hold Biden in both civil and criminal contempt for failing to turn over requested financial information. Biden has been fighting to reduce his $20,000-per-month child support payments, which he says he can no longer afford.
The July 10 hearing could further complicate Biden’s legal issues, which include a federal tax probe and a House Oversight Committee investigation into potential influence-peddling by the Biden family.
Judge Meyer said Biden must appear in July to "show cause, if any exists, why he should not be held in contempt" and to "determine if a finding of contempt and sanctions are appropriate." The judge said she will consider a range of penalties, including fines and "incarceration for criminal contempt for a period of up to six months."
She added that Biden’s "ability to pay" child support "is or may become a critical issue in the contempt proceeding," opening him up to questions about his financial condition in court.
Biden "will have an opportunity at the hearing to respond to statements and questions about his financial status" and "is subject to an express finding by the court that he has the ability to pay," said Judge Meyer.
If Biden is held in contempt, the court could toss out his motion to reduce his child support payments, and another motion he filed to block his four-year-old daughter from using the "Biden" last name.
Roberts’s lawyer, Clint Lancaster, said in a contempt motion in May that Biden was "playing hide the ball" and has not turned over complete information about his income, assets, and investments. Lancaster said the court should hold Biden in contempt to make him a "believer in the rule of law."
Biden’s legal team countered that he has complied with discovery to the best of his ability, but he "does not have access to some of the information requested for various reasons."
The July 10 hearing would be Biden’s second public appearance in the case since it was filed four years ago. His first was last month.
Judge Meyer previously rejected requests by Roberts’s legal team to hold Biden in contempt, most recently in early May. She said at the time that the motion had "not been properly pled."
However, she also warned Biden at a May 1 hearing that there would be consequences for continuing to withhold financial records, and wrote in a recent order that the court "will not accept cryptic or vague answers to discovery and may treat such answers as a failure to answer."