Family Law Blog

Can You Face Jail Time For Unpaid Spousal and Child Support?

Friday, March 22, 2019

stack of money sitting under gavel on table

Let's face it, you may be okay financially supporting your children, but no one really wants to give their hard-earned money to an ex-spouse after they divorced. Sometimes, it may feel like even though you only pay child support, that your ex-spouse is using that for their own fun money. However, if the courts have ordered you to pay a certain amount for a certain amount of time, you have to do it or you could find yourself behind bars.

If you simply decide to stop paying spousal or child support that was awarded to your ex-spouse by your divorce court, their best option is to take you back to court. You will be served with a contempt of court notice that demands you appear in court and state why you haven't paid. If you fail to appear at this hearing, they will place a warrant out for your arrest.

However, once you get into that courtroom, do realize there is a big difference between "won't pay" and "can't pay" your support payments. If you demonstrate that it has been causing you financial hardship to make these payments, you likely won't go to jail and your payments will be amended. However, if you are maliciously withholding payments, depending on the amount owed, you may face jail time for it.

The small amount of good news is that you are not a hardened criminal. Awhile back in 2012 there was a case against NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman for non-payment of child and spousal support. He owed around $850,000 to his ex-wife but was only facing a punishment of 20 days in jail for not paying it. This is not to say that you won't face more time, or 20 days in jail is a small amount to pay for not paying support, but rather it is that you won't face years in jail for non-payment as this isn't a particularly heinous crime.

If you have perhaps neglected support payments or a spouse isn't paying you what was owed, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra help you.

How Long Does Rehabilitative Alimony Last?

Friday, July 27, 2018

There are many different types of alimony that may be used depending on the specifics of a divorce. However, most commonly, if you are going through a divorce, you may find yourself paying or receiving what is referred to as rehabilitative alimony or spousal support. Unlike permanent alimony, you may find yourself paying or receiving this for only a set period of time.

Rehabilitative spousal support is meant to not be permanent, but to "rehabilitate" a spouse so they can become self-sufficient after a divorce. However, as to how long it can last will vary. Sometimes, the courts can decide that it should be paid only for a set amount of time so the spouse can get back on their feet. However, rehabilitative alimony can also be tied to a specific goal such as graduating college or gaining sufficient employment.

Yet, if rehabilitative alimony is tied to a specific goal, it leaves room for a spouse to abuse that. They could take a year off their education or only take one class. If there is not a sufficient reason for this, you may be able to argue that you should no longer pay spousal support. Often in these cases, an ex-spouse will get a job and not have time for education, or not want to pursue it at all anymore. Usually, the rules for rehabilitative alimony can then be altered or dismissed depending on how much an ex-spouse is making at their new job or changing the rehabilitative alimony from "goal-based" to a set time limit.

While no one really wants to pay spousal support, doing so on a rehabilitative basis can often be preferable purely because it is not forever and they only need to pay for a set amount of time. If you are going through a divorce and want to make sure you are not paying spousal support forever, then contact us today.

What to Do When Spousal Support Payments are Late?

Friday, October 20, 2017

If your ex-spouse has agreed to make spousal support payments, then you have a reasonable expectation that those payments will show up on time. After all, this isn't fun money, spousal support is awarded because you became accustomed to a certain standard of living or just plain old need those payments to live on your own. So if your ex-spouse is no longer sending regular payments, what do you do?

Your first step needs to be obtaining the court order that awarded the payments. If you and your spouse agreed to a deadline or the court set one, then you have proof that they are knowingly ignoring a court order. Do note that if you have a voluntary agreement of spousal support, if you did not get it written and notarized, this will make receiving payments near impossible.

Once you have found the valid court order that demands payment, the quickest and most efficient way to make sure a spouse makes their payments on time is to seek wage garnishment. If they have knowingly been skipping payments, then it will not be a difficult court battle to win what is called an Income Withholding Order that garnishes wages. However, if your ex-spouse has lost their job and cannot make payments, your spousal support payments may be put on hold.

If your ex-spouse has stopped the spousal support payments that you need, contact us today. Divorce and spousal support non-payment is a tricky business and both sides of a divorce can benefit from having a knowledgeable lawyer by their side.

Reasons You Deserve Spousal Support and Alimony

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Divorce can be really hard on everyone, especially emotionally and financially. People who are used to a two-income household can really start to struggle when they are left to pay for everything themselves. Some women (and men) have even given up their career to care for the children, leaving them with almost no options. Parents who have been out of the workforce can struggle to find another job.

For this reason, spousal support, also known as alimony, was created. This gives financial help to the partner who has less income. Though many people don’t believe that their exes (or even themselves) deserve alimony, here are some reasons that alimony should be considered.

  • Many people understand how important their spouse’s career is. They may work to put them through college, becoming the breadwinner for the family. Without them working extra to put their spouse through college, they wouldn’t be as far as they are today.
  • Many spouses stay at home to help to further their spouse’s career. This allows them to be available when needed. They can pour their heart and soul into taking care of their spouse and making his or her life as easy as possible. A spotless house, clean laundry, and an unstressed spouse can really make a difference for some husbands and wives.
  • If someone starts a business of any time, many spouses will work for them. Though you may try to work together after the divorce, it can be difficult and stressful. It can take time to find another job.
  • Many women (and some men) stay home and take care of the children while the other parent was the breadwinner. Through divorce, the stay-at-home parent will probably need to go back to work, only they have put their career on hold so they will probably have to work a minimum wage or office job to try to make ends meet. If they didn’t quit their job, they could be making a lot of money.

Alimony can really make a difference for some people. It can be hard to find a job after you have been without one for years (or even months). You may also feel like you deserve some help because you worked extra and sacrificed to send the other one to college so that he or she could get ahead.

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Important Documents to Retain Whether You pay or Receive Spousal Support

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Whether you pay spousal support or receive it, it's best to always keep accurate records. Generally, the individual who pays alimony gets to deduct that amount from his taxes, and the person receiving it must claim it as taxable income.

The Alimony Payer

Many times, after a drawn-out divorce, the spouse will challenge the amounts that are paid and accepted. If you don't have the proper documentation, you could be ordered to pay any amounts not documented. Therefore, you should keep the following:

  • A list that shows when each payment was made. This should include the check number and the addressed it was mailed to. You should always keep a copy of the check.
  • Verified receipts if the payment was made in cash. The receipt should show the receiver received the payment and indicate the amount paid.
  • It's best you keep these records for at least three years from the date you filed the return on which you claimed the deduction. It's probably best if you keep them for several years, just to be safe.

The Alimony Receiver

If you're receiving alimony, you should keep the following records:

  • The dates you received payments.
  • The amount of payment, checks or money order number.
  • A copy of the check that shows the account number from which the money is drawn from.
  • A copy of any receipt for a cash payment that you executed.

You should also keep these documents for at least three years, if not longer.

For more information on alimony payments and other divorce issues, contact us.

Spousal Support: How are Dollar Amounts Calculated and Established

Thursday, December 31, 2015

To the average person going through a divorce, the concept of spousal support is often daunting and complicated, leading to more questions than before you started.

But in order to sort out the difficult matter that is alimony, it is best that you do some preliminary research into the topic.

Because, with a matter like spousal support, when you are armed with knowledge, the overall process runs smoother and with less stress.

To ease your worries, we have compiled some basic information on the monetary figures related to spousal support, which have been taken directly from the California Courts web page.

Temporary Spousal Support

To establish and calculate a dollar amount for temporary support figures, judges use a basic mathematical formula. The exact calculation differs county to county, but the basic concept remains the same.

For a complete breakdown on the local rules governing temporary payment amounts, click here.

Permanent Spousal Support

The courts in California use their own discretion when deciding spousal support. When the judge's final decision is made, he or she will use the factors in California Family Code section 4320 as a guideline.

Among those considerations, a judge will look at the following factors:

- The length of the marriage

- Living expenses and needs

- Standard of living and what each person contributes

- The age and health of both parties

- Debts, properties, and assets

- Educational expense considerations, and if help was provided by one person to another

- If there were any instances of domestic violence

- If either person's career or job was impacted by unemployment or home care needs

- Taxes, as they relate to the spousal support payments

Finally, after spousal support is decided by the judge, it becomes "part of the final divorce or legal separation judgment."

Don't go through this complicated matter alone. Always work with and experienced and trusted CA attorney to help guide you through the alimony process.

For more information on how we can help you with your legal matters, please contact us today.

Los Angeles Businessman Seeks Overhaul of California Alimony Laws

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Los Angeles man has launched a campaign to push for a complete overhaul of alimony laws in California.

According to Steve Clark, an independent software consultant in Los Angeles, the existing alimony laws in California are outdated, and no longer account for the fact that women now comprise a significant proportion of the workforce in the state. His initiative stems from his own experiences during his divorce which lasted for more than three years, and was a painful experience. He was married for more than 25 years, and according to him, the divorce, cost him more than $100,000 in legal costs alone.

The current laws require that when a marriage has lasted for more than 10 years, the spouse who is the lower earning partner in the marriage, be entitled to lifelong alimony. According to Clark, this is extremely unfair because women now account for approximately 45% of the workforce in the United States. In a situation like this, overhaul of alimony laws should not be considered a gender issue, because there are many women now who earn much more than their husbands. He also believes that the existing alimony laws, which call for lifelong alimony, are very unfair to children emotionally and financially because much of the money that would have been given for child support is spent on legal fees.

Clark has launched a website in which he is petitioning for signatures from registered voters across the state. He must receive more than 355,000 signatures before the deadline on November 2.

Negotiating with the help of a lawyer to make sure that your rights to alimony payments are protected can help reduce legal costs. In fact, attorneys often recommend that you work together with your spouse’s attorney to come to a settlement, that is mutually agreeable to the two of you.