Hunter Biden Ordered to Defend Himself from Contempt Claim in Child Support Case
His appearance will be his first in the case since it began last May
Former Vice President Joe Biden‘s son Hunter Biden has been ordered to appear in court next week in connection with a contempt claim made against him in his ongoing child support case in Arkansas, PEOPLE confirms.
His appearance, at a Wednesday hearing in Independence County, will be his first in the case since it began last May.
While paternity was settled earlier this month — following a DNA test in the fall that proved Hunter, 49, fathered a child with Roberts in 2018 — the issue of child support remains pending.
Roberts, who is in her twenties, has also asked the court to make Hunter pay her attorney fees.
In a motion for contempt filed this week (Roberts’ second such motion), her lawyers said Hunter has continued to refuse to provide needed discovery materials and financial records as ordered by the judge.
On Jan. 6, the judge said both Hunter and Roberts had to “comply with all pending discovery” by Jan. 16. But Roberts’ latest contempt motion states that Hunter “has failed to provide any additional discovery information of any nature” — including personal information such as his address and phone number and his previous years’ tax returns.
Hunter’s “conduct is willful and contemptuous,” Roberts’ motion states, arguing he should be found in contempt.
“The defendant continues to act as though he has no respect for this Court, its orders, the legal process in this state, or the needs of his child for support,” the contempt motion states, adding, “This is but another example of the defendant’s unnecessary actions to frustrate prompt adjudication of this matter and increase the plaintiff’s litigation costs.”
On Tuesday, the judge ordered Hunter to appear next Wednesday morning and “show cause, if any exists, as to why he should not be held in contempt for any of the alleged violations of this Court’s orders.”
His team has not yet filed a response to the contempt motion, according to online court records.
However, he vigorously denied a similar motion for contempt filed by Roberts’ attorneys in December, including denying that he had not provided required financial and tax records and said that “to the extent possible” he had been following the judge’s orders.
In that earlier response, his attorney said Robert’s contempt motion included “histrionics” and contended, in turn, that she had strategically included an exhibit in order to leak Hunter’s address to the media by putting it into the official record.
The two sides sharply disagree on whether Hunter’s intransigence is a stalling tactic — verging on contempt — or a reflection of his caution after being the target of all manner of speculation, innuendo and insult.
In December, the court ordered both Roberts and Hunter to provide five years of tax returns and five years’ worth of financial documentation for any money they’d received. Hunter had said in a November filing that he was unemployed since May.
Roberts pressed Hunter for more extensive financial records, including about businesses he had owned. She also scheduled a deposition of Hunter on Dec. 23.
But Hunter resisted, arguing that some of her requested financial and personal information was beyond the scope of what was necessary to resolve the single issue remaining in the case: how much he should pay to support the baby. He also asked for an order limiting the scheduled deposition and who would be in the room during it.
“Public disclosure of the deposition can only be for the purpose of continued annoyance or attempts to embarrass the Defendant,” Hunter’s attorney, Brent Langdon, wrote in December.
The court documents in the case outline ongoing disputes between Hunter and Roberts, including Hunter’s concern that his personal and financial information could become public as part of the suit.
A judge in the case previously ordered all financial information as well as their child’s identity be kept secret.
Hunter has some reason to be guarded: In recent months, two unrelated parties have sought to legally “intervene” in the suit, making explosive and unproven allegations about Hunter in filings with the court, all of which have since been stricken.
Roberts’ suit was first filed on May 28 but did not become public for weeks, when it was covered by a local Arkansas paper. International attention has since followed the case, with both Hunter and Roberts being dogged by the tabloids in different ways.
They were already scheduled to return to court on Jan. 29 (the same day Hunter will now answer the contempt claim) “for the purpose of addressing temporary child support for the minor child and other matters,” the presiding judge wrote recently. Permanent child support will be determined in May.
In addition to confirming paternity this month, the judge also granted Roberts primary custody of their child, who is now a toddler, with visitation for Hunter to be agreed upon by both parties at a later date.
Hunter’s tumultuous personal life, including a surprise marriage, returned him to the headlines in 2019 at the same time as his dad launched a presidential bid — immediately becoming the leading contender to face President Donald Trump.
Hunter’s past business dealings in Ukraine and China have been heavily scrutinized by conservatives as a result, though no evidence of wrongdoing has emerged. What Trump did with these same theories about Hunter is also at the heart of his historic impeachment.
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Roberts’ attorney Clint Lancaster previously told PEOPLE that she was a “very, very private person” who was focused on her child. Her team has suggested in court filings that she turned to a lawsuit after Hunter’s earlier support of their child ran dry.
“My client wants this thing resolved, she doesn’t want to be in the media, she doesn’t want paparazzi hanging out at her dad’s place of business hoping to get a shot of her,” Lancaster said earlier this month.
Roberts’ original suit stated that she and Hunter “were in a relationship” and had a child born in August 2018. Lancaster previously said that Roberts met Hunter in the Washington, D.C., area.
Her attorneys said in court filings that she worked for Hunter and received money from him between May and November 2018.
Lancaster says Hunter has not given her any money since that November. He married filmmaker Melissa Cohen in a surprise wedding last year.
Hunter’s attorney told PEOPLE he does comment on pending cases beyond what was available in the court record.